Lake Burunge, an important ecological and tourism feature in Babati is under serious threat.
The large water body, located in the Rural Babati District, is in danger of drying up after the Tarangire River, its main source of water, recently diverted its flow to another direction.
Tarangire River changed its course from Lake Burunge, channeling water into the nearby, and much larger, Lake Manyara instead.
As the result the water in Manyara overflows over the lake’s boundaries while the Lake Burunge shoreline recedes.
Both water bodies are important components of the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem.
Members of the Journalists’ Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) who recently visited to the adjacent Burunge Wildlife Management Area, under USAID support, witnessed a perched dry river channel which used to pump water from Tarangire into Lake Burunge.
Several tipper trucks were also spotted inside the river with workers scooping and loading sand, rock and gravel from the river basin for construction purposes.
Such activities were enough to prove that the river branch previously flowing into Lake Burunge was totally dried out.
A tale of two lakes
“Tarangire is a big river but as it flows downhill, from the National Park, it splits into two branches, the first leading to Lake Burunge and the second channeling water onto Lake Manyara,” explained the Executive Secretary of Burunge Wildlife Management Area, Benson Mwaise.
Heavy rains that precipitated in the area in the late 2021 and early this year caused the Tarangire river to swell and erode and sweep away much of the soils and debris from surrounding areas.
The collected tons of debris eventually built up a baricade where the river brances towards Lake Burunge.
The resulting blockage inhibited water flow into the outlet which connects the river to lake Burunge.
“The Mounds of Soil, rocks and debris created a wall, which now prevents currents from flowing into the second outlet branch of River Tarangire, redirecting all the surging water into Lake Manyara.”Burunge WMA official
At the Moment, Lake Manyara is overflown and in fact its water is now submerging a great part of the wildlife corridor, in Mto-wa-Mbu such that wildlife authorities were compelled to transfer Zebras and Wildebeests from the location to Tarangire National Park.
All the same, Lake Burunge still has ample water, thanks to ongoing rains and smaller rivers that continue to flow in there, but conservationists fear that, once the monsoons end, the Lake could dry up.
Apparently, Tarangire is the only all-season river which usually maintains its water flows that feed the two lakes come rain or shine…Rain or drought!
Mapped within the Babati District of Manyara and Monduli District of Arusha, Lake Manyara covers 470-square-kilometres and is the lifeline of the corresponding National Park.
Lake Burunge on the other hand, covers 40 square kilometers and is the main watering area for the wildlife species found within the Burunge Wildlife Management Area made up of ten villages.
Named after the warthog, Tarangire River originatese in the highlands and escarpments of Babati District of Manyara and Irangi Hills in the Kondoa District of Dodoma.
The river then flows down to eastern Kondo escarpments from Wasi Highlands, heading East to Chubi, then enters the Tarangire National Park before branching into two segments, one flowing to Lake Burunge and another into Lake Manyara.