We wrote “A Plea For Sanity at River Crossings” a short while ago – and were delighted to see sense prevail over the thorny issue of vehicle pressure at wildebeest crossing sites. The Minister of Tourism, Kenya Tourist Board, Kenya Association of Tour Operators, and Narok County acted swiftly to address the situation. But it is an inherently difficult situation and one with no simple cure. Check out #PaulaKahumbu post on a camp in the Maasai Mara that was just in the news – situated right next to a river crossing site. Delighted to see that the Minister of Tourism was quick to ask for the long-awaited Maasai Mara Management Plan that we have been waiting years for – and are told is now almost ready. We all know that there are many more camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara National Reserve than is environmentally sustainable.
Tented camps – mobile or permanent – have mushroomed in virtually every available patch of cover in the Reserve and its immediate surrounds these past many years. In the adjoining Wildlife Conservancies such as #Maranorth and #Olaremotorogi it is one tourist bed per 700 acres – in the Reserve, we are told it is x4 that number. So no wonder we have a problem controlling vehicle pressure at key river crossing sites and around predators.
It need not be like this. We have an example of what is possible staring us in the face – the #maratriangle – with the work of a non-for-profit Management Company called the Mara Conservancy. MC has done an amazing job over the past 20 years managing that part of the Reserve on the west side of the Mara River known as the Mara Triangle.
Tourism is vital to funding the conservation of places like the Maasai Mara – and for generating jobs and incomes for Kenyans. But we have to find the right balance between what is sustainable – and kind to the Earth – and what is simply driven by chasing the greatest profit. It is the difference between thinking short term gain – our default position as humans – and planing for the welfare of future generations. To do that we have to reconnect to Nature as the center of our world – rather than thinking of ourselves as the center of the universe.
If we are to achieve World Heritage Status for the Maasai Mara in 2022 then Narok County have already taken a giant step forward in partnering with the Mara Conservancy to assist the Narok side of the Mara River in addressing some of the most fundamental issues facing the area – roads and infrastructure, security, and managing vehicle pressure.
The Maasai Mara deserves to be a World Heritage Site. It is unique and a vital part of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem as defined by the wanderings of its great herds of wildebeest and zebras. There is nowhere like it on earth. Becoming a World Heritage Site will happen if we continue to see strong action to implement protocols that will help us to meet accreditation. WHS status does not arrive on a plate. We have to earn it. And so we must all support these efforts. The Maasai Mara is a priceless piece of Nature that deserves our respect and endeavors to ensure its future.
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