The Meki drains the Gurage mountains to the west and north-west of the lake, and the Catar rises in the Arsi highlands to the east. Lake Zeway drains into Lake Abijatta via the Bulbula river. Lake Zeway is for the most part bordered by swamp: discontinuous blocks of Typha spp. and Cyperus papyrus fringe the shoreline, the latter being used to build boats similar to those found in Lake Tana. However, much of the shoreline and open water has now been invaded by Eicchornia crassipes.
Narrow thickets of Aeschynomene elaphroxylon (which provides a light balsa wood used to build boats) are found in areas subject to flooding and along the banks of the Bulbula river. Immediately inland, and especially along the western shoreline, there are expanses of Cynodon plectstachyus and the endemic C. aethiopicus which provide valuable grazing when the lake is low. However, where there is alkaline seepage, vegetation cover may be sparse and largely confined to low tussocks of the unpalatable grass Sporobolus spicatus.
Most of the area around Lake Zeway used to be covered in Acacia woodland, although much of this has now been cleared for farmland, especially large-scale irrigated fields producing export crops and cut flowers. Lake Zeway has a thriving, traditional fishing industry utilizing small boats, nets and lines. The main market for the catch is Addis Ababa.
Birds of Lake Zeway
Lake Zeway may support over 20,000 waterbirds on a seasonal basis. The most common species are Pelecanus onocrotalus, Leptoptilos crumeniferus (which roosts in large numbers by the lake, adjacent to town), Dendrocygna bicolor, D. viduata, Larus ridibundus, L. cirrocephalus, Chlidonias hybridus and C. leucopterus.
There is also a mixed roost of several thousand Phalacrocorax carbo and P. africanus close to the fisheries jetty. Other interesting species include Thalassornis leuconotus, Nettapus auritus and Gallinula angulata (in small numbers), Sterna caspia and S. sandvicensis (isolated records only) and Phalaropus lobatus. Large numbers of Hirundo rustica and Motacilla flava have been seen close by and may roost at the site.
Key Species at Lake Zeway
African Pygmy Goose