We need to step up our efforts to preserve the Walvis Bay Lagoon

Staff reporter

The community and municipality of Walvis Bay need to take an urgent look at the Walvis Bay lagoon if the town doesn’t want to see this world renowned tourist attraction to survive for future generations. That includes the lagoon’s iconic birdlife which draws thousands of visitors each year.

Walks along the lagoon reveal very worrisome sights. The municipality’s semi-purified effluent overflows into the lagoon at several points, but for many weeks the effluent water was a black, smelly substance. In recent days the overflowing water again returned to its smelly state, despite earlier assurance by the municipality that upgrade work to the semi-purified effluent plant was completed and that the smelly water was only a temporary hick-up.
The smelly water is not good for Walvis Bay’s tourism image and it is certainly unacceptable that semi-purified effluent of this low standard over-flows into the lagoon.
Walks also reveal pollution, as a lot of plastics, tins, bottles, carton boxes and other litter left behind by visitors to the lagoon.
At the lagoon’s southern side regular discoveries are made of drug paraphernalia which proves many people look up the remote part of the lagoon at night to smoke cannabis and use other types of drugs.
Walvis Bay for many years had a tourist information structure at what we commonly known as Lover’s Hill. It had to be dismantled as vandals desecrated it. There were new arrangements made for the construction of a new information centre closer to the Flamingo Cottages, but to date the municipality of Walvis Bay dragged feet on the issue.
The lagoon, salt works and the Bird Paradise at the entrance to Walvis Bay form Southern Africa’s single most important coastal wetland for migratory birds. Up to 150 000 transient avian visitors stopping by annually, including massive flocks of both lesser and greater Flamingos.
The wetland in Walvis Bay is a vital link in a global network of nature reserves. Should Walvis Bay lagoon be lost to these birds there are only a few other locations where they can move to. The result would be substantial mortality of displaced birds. Walvis Bay wetland is a vital refuge for flamingos during the dry spells of the year. They breed inland on pans created by summer rains. In the dry winter season the pans dry up and the birds fly to coastal wetlands, Walvis Bay is the single most important lo-cation.
At the Bird Paradise, the situation is also deteriorating. The area is littered as people dump their household waste among the reeds and the remoteness also makes the area dangerous as criminals frequent the area looking for unsuspecting tourists to burgle their vehicles.
Some stakeholders in the tourism industry say unless action is taken now, the lagoon would lose its tourism-appeal in as little as 10 years from now.
“Let’s take care and respect our God given privileges that can be taken away so easily”, remarked one stakeholder when asked about the decaying state of affairs at the lagoon.

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