Rice farming theatens hippo population at Lake Manyara
Rice farming is reducing the water levels significantly at Lake Manyara, threatening the existence of the hippos living in the surrounding national park. Tanzania is an important breeding ground for the hippo whose total number in east Africa are thought to be roughly 70,000.
High demand for water has led to rice farmers diverting the flow of the ten rivers flowing into the shallow freshwater Lake Manyara about 120 km southwest of Arusha.
Much of the water supply has dried up according to ecologist Asantaeli Melita who warns that the lake could disappear entirely if nothing is done to limit the irrigation and deforestation on the surrounding highlands.
In addition to irrigation, an increasing amount of water is being consumed by farms, hotels and residential areas.