Tata Chemicals, part of the Indian industrial giant Tata, has announced plans to mine some 500,000 tonnes of sodium carbonate from the alkaline shores of the lake, which play host to some half a million nesting flamingos every year.
Chris Magin, from the RSPB, has few hopes for the species if the project goes ahead:
'The chances of the lesser flamingos continuing to breed at Lake Natron in the face of such mayhem are next to zero,' he told the paper.
Lake Natron Resources Limited - the company through which Tata is operating - is today holding a public consultation, but has barred certain environmental groups from attending, and has withheld parts of environmental impact assessment report from public scrutiny.
Three-quarters of the world's breeding population of lesser flamingos nest at Lake Natron. Magin sees the development as capable of pushing the species from its current position on the 'near-threatened species' list into a terminal decline.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist July 2007