Lake Babati is one of dozens of water bodies known as the Rift Valley Lakes that span the eastern side of the African Continent from Mozambique to the Red Sea. The lake is the lifeblood of the town of Babati in Central Tanzania. Here people draw their cooking, cleaning, and even drinking water. Cattle feast along the densely vegetated shorelines beside women from nearby villages washing clothes. The lake is also home to abundant wildlife including fish, prawns, eels, hippos and many species of water bird.
Like the diverse wildlife found in the lake, Babati is a melting pot for Tanzania’s various tribes. On a given day one may find members of the Masai, Barabaig, Iraqw, Irangi and Man’gati tribes laboring along the shores of the lake or harvesting its fruits from within. However, the tranquil balance between man and nature has shifted as overuse of the lake’s resources have begun to affect natural habitats. Overfishing, excessive water drawing, and the destruction of wetlands for firewood and cattle grazing areas are resulting in dwindling numbers of the lake’s inhabitants as well as receding of its waters.