JONATHAN SCOTT: PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN - MASAI MARA - Discover Africa
PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN – MASAI MARA
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and insights to our last post: A PLEA FOR SANITY AT RIVER CROSSINGS. The Maasai Mara is such a spectacular Eden, one that we desperately need to treasure OVER AND ABOVE ITS ECONOMIC VALUE.
Yes, the revenue from tourism is vital to conservation. But the Maasai Mara – along with its big brother across the border in Tanzania, the Serengeti NP – is unique. However, they are fragile Edens. It is all too easy for us to say after visiting the Maasai Mara “But we always see lions when we visit the Mara – we always see so much wildlife – surely all is well and there is no need to worry?”
Meanwhile, beneath the surface there are important warning signs that we need to take note of that scientists are helping us to understand. This mirrors why we need to look beyond the immediate impact of Covid-19 to identify the reasons why for many years now Our Planet has continually offered us Warning Signs as to the impact we are having on its good health.
WE NEED TO PAY ATTENTION. But it seems inherent to human behavior that we only react when the tap runs dry – not when we are repeatedly warned that we are running out of water. Our wild places are fragments of a bygone world. We owe it to Nature and to ourselves to respect the wonder of what they represent – food for body and soul.
That is why we founded the Sacred Nature Initiative in 2019, to help draw attention to how disconnected we have become from nature. There is no question that the Maasai Mara NR deserves to be a World Heritage Site. That is a given due to its unique character and importance as a treasure trove of biodiversity – and as an integral part of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem.
It plays a vital role as the dry season home to the phenomenon we call the great migration – some 1.3 million wildebeest and 200,000 zebras. If we are to achieve WHS status in 2022, wishing it will happen won’t be enough. We will need to implement a number of vital actions. KWS and Narok County are working with the WHS team to achieve this, and we must support their efforts in every way we can.
One vital element in this process is finalizing a comprehensive Management Plan for the entire Reserve. This process is currently underway. Within that Plan has to be means of dispersing and monitoring the high density of safari vehicles within the Reserve due to the very high number of camps and lodges.
This will necessitate a well-maintained road/track system enabling visitors to enjoy the many highlights on offer in the Maasai Mara – WITHOUT TRASHING THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE PROCESS. This is vital to ensuring that visitors can enjoy the wonders of the Maasai Mara YEAR ROUND.
The so-called “off-season or low season” mirroring our rainy seasons is in fact some of the best times to visit the Masai Mara Reserve due to the beauty of the landscape during the rains. We cannot change the fact of the oversupply of camps and lodges overnight – if at all. But in that case all the more important that the impact of safari vehicles is kept under control.
The Mara Conservancy – a professional non-for-profit wildlife management company – has done a wonderful job since its inception in 2001 in dealing with visitor usage of the Mara Triangle. They ensure that vehicles adhere to the rules on off-road driving – and on the number of vehicles allowed at any one time at a significant sighting.
To achieve this has meant developing a good system of well-maintained game drive tracks and having patrol vehicles (like Cheetah One – the Suzuki Patrol Vehicle – that the BBC Big Cat Diary team and Angie and myself donated to) to enforce the regulations. Key to this is that it is done in a sensitive way that does not make visitors feel that the authorities are a “hostile force” – but that they are welcome.
It is hard at times to convey the right level of seriousness while having the most constructive impact. People adjust to a new norm much more quickly than one might think – Guides and Visitors. It is still possible to have the safari of a lifetime – but without the chaos that we sometimes witness.
The Guides know and obey the regulations in the Triangle and visitors are happy. The Mara Conservancy is now working closely with their colleagues to the East of the Mara River in what we all hope is the beginning of a fruitful new era in the history of this unforgettable part of Kenya. PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN – MASAI MARA
Done by Jonathan Scott
Professional Safari Photographer
Big Cat Diaries – PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN – MASAI MARA
PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN – MASAI MARA PROTECTING A FRAGILE EDEN – MASAI MARA
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