Mara River’s Death Bed Spells Doom for Wildebeest Migration

By Virginia Mwangi / April 20, 2019




Nature is up in defense after warnings of grave consequences for polluting it fell onto deaf ears and unfortunately, its wrath is hitting the most defenseless hardest and is yet to reach the ‘big fish’ in the pond.

Mara River is the most recent casualty mirroring a sorry state of other water sources in Kenya evidenced by the recent water rationing release by the Nairobi water that has a number of estates of enjoying tap water for a day out of the seven days in a week.

Mara River not only has to contend with the drought that has the sun scorching it dry but has to also, sadly, tolerate the greedy mwananchi who has chosen to greedily encroach the river banks in the hope of hosting a few tourists and making a kill out of the iconic migration.

The river encroachment has seen the over two million wildebeest that migrate from Tanzania to Kenya reduce in big numbers as the once attractive nature that assured them of green pasture and sufficient water slowly becomes home of tourists for the period they come to watch the migration.

At around the same time every year, over 2 million wildebeests, more than 200,000 zebras and almost half a million gazelles migrate from Tanzania’s Serengeti, in what has been termed as a World phenomenon, to Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve.

The animals migrate in June and reach the Mara around July where they remain till in October when they move to Tanzania’s Serengeti. Despite being surrounded by protected areas, the Serengeti-Mara migration path is not only facing the threat of the drying Mara River but that of severe encroachment.

A science journal published on 29th March revealed activities that are eating up to the animals’ path such as farming, settlements and erecting of fences which pressure the area’s natural environment and interferes with the wildlife’s migration.

The study carried out by scientists from seven countries led by the University of Groningen entails research over the last 40 years and reveals the consequences of actions of human being against nature especially around the Mara. The wildlife, according to the study, lacks not only sufficient pasture and water but also enough space for the animals to freely mate.

River Mara is home to around 4000 hippopotami that attacks wildlife during the migration which makes it more attractive to the tourists despite scores of wildebeests losing their lives the migration still takes place on an annual basis.

The migration is greatly threatened and may not see the next decade if encroachment of the wildlife path is not halted and the affected land reclaimed. Kenyans have all a role to play in reversing the climate mess their actions have created.

We are facing consequences of what the late Wangari Maathai once warned us of, “Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder”





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