August 7, 2008 8:00 AM

Shrinking African lake imperils wildlife

There's nothing remarkable about this lump of hot sand, tangled weeds and tree-branch huts except that, until a few years ago, it didn't exist. More precisely, the island was underwater, hidden beneath the vast surface of central Africa's Lake Chad. The emergence of the island, whose sweltering shores have been settled by dozens of families, is evidence of an unsettling ecological trend: The lake is drying up.

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