In northern Tanzania, near that countries border with Kenya, sits Lake Natron. Depending on rainfall, the alkalinity of the lake can reach a pH of almost 10, and the temperature can get as high as 140 °F. Despite this fact, and the somewhat misnamed title of this post, the lake does not kill everything that touched it. The mineral rich lake is actually home to a fish known as the “Soda Cichlid” (Alcolapia alcalicus) and is the home to the world’s largest breeding ground of the Lesser Flamingo. Though you wouldn’t know that upon just looking at the hauntingly beautiful images captured by photographer Nick Brandt in his new book Across the Ravaged Land.
According to the photographer:
I unexpectedly found the creatures – all manner of birds and bats – washed up along the shoreline of Lake Natron in Northern Tanzania. No-one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake. The water has an extremely high soda and salt content, so high that it would strip the ink off my Kodak film boxes within a few seconds. The soda and salt causes the creatures to calcify, perfectly preserved, as they dry.
I took these creatures as I found them on the shoreline, and then placed them in ‘living’ positions, bringing them back to ‘life’, as it were. Reanimated, alive again in death.
Across The Ravaged Land, is not just about Lake Natron, it is the third and final volume of Nick Brandt’s work which reveals the darker side of his vision of East Africa’s animal kingdom and the juxtaposition of mankind. It includes other images that would make for great doom metal album covers, such as this lion’s head.