MAASAI MARA NATIONAL PARK
Maasai Mara is the most famous and most visited of the Wildlife Parks in Kenya; located 270 kilometers from Nairobi. Maasai Mara is most famous for two things; first its cats. Here in Mara (as its locally called), you will find large numbers of Maasai Lions, African Leopards and Tanzanian Cheetahs. Secondly, Mara has the largest wildlife spectacle in Africa; the annual Wildebeest Migration. To and from the Serengeti in the south, over 1.5 million wildebeest, accompanied by 200,000 zebra, 500,000 Thomson’s gazelle, 97,000 Topi and 18,000 Elands form a 40 kilometer line marching over a thousand kilometers. Nothing will stop this frantic exodus, even the Nile Crocodile that attack the animals as they cross the river, hundreds taken down in that dramatic crossing, or the other hungry predators most notably the lions and hyena that follow along. Over 8,000 wildebeests are born every hour of the pilgrimage making this a journey to continue the species’ reproduction.
Maasai Mara is located in the Southwest of Kenya, combined with the Serengeti, it is the most spectacular game-viewing eco-systems in the world. The Reserve stretches 1,510 square kilometers. Here there are over 95 species of mammals and almost 600 species of birds. The Big 5 (leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo and rhino) are well represented in Maasai Mara. Hippos and Nile Crocodiles are found in large groups in the Mara and Talek Rivers. The plains between the Mara River and the Esoit Siria Escarpment are probably the best area for game viewing, in particular lion and cheetah.
A recent study funded by the World Wildlife Fund, monitoring hoofed species; reported losses of 75% for giraffes, 80% for warthogs, 76% for hartebeest and 67% for impala. These huge reductions in populations are due to human settlement in and around the reserve. The higher human population density leads to an increased number of livestock being grazed as well as an increase in poaching. In addition, a new tarmac road proposed is raising a lot of concern from scientists who say that the road will disrupt the annual migration of the wildebeest and ultimately would affect the habitat of predators such as lions, cheetahs and African wild dogs as well as the grasslands themselves.