Video courtesy: Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala
EAWLS has learnt through a Facebook post by the Cabinet Secretary Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala, that a tented camp has been erected on the banks of the Mara River in the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR), and that the camp is preventing migrating wildebeest from freely crossing the river.
In 2016, the Narok County Government commissioned the East African Wild Life Society (EAWLS) to conduct a comprehensive and independent audit of all tourist facilities within the Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR). The audit revealed some cases of non-compliance with laws, policies and regulations, especially those that relate to tourist facilities’ statutory requirements with regard to business registration, ownership and environmental management.
The audit established that as at 2016, the reserve had a total of 31 permanent tourist facilities, including 29 lodges and two camps, with a total bed capacity of 1,382. It was noted with great concern that in some facilities the bed capacity limit was breached during the peak seasons. The extent of that breach could not be established during the audit.
Not only did this audit contribute to the development of Maasai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) management plan – which is yet to be gazetted – but it also presented some key recommendations.
The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 stipulates that no development project will be approved in the absence of a Management Plan that has been approved and gazetted by the Cabinet Secretary. The increasing number of tourist facilities built within MMNR in the absence of a gazetted Management Plan is alarming and is in contravention of the Act.
The MMNR is globally regarded as a premier wildlife viewing destination. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1989. In 2006 US broadcaster ABC News named MMNR the seventh New Wonder of the World. An expert panel at ABC’s Good Morning America programme cited the spectacle of the annual migration of more than a million wildebeests, half a million gazelles, and 200,000 zebras constantly on the move from the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to MMNR in search of fresh grass and water. The Maasai Mara ecosystem holds up to 30 percent of Kenya’s wildlife.
To read the audit policy brief, click on this link: https://bit.ly/3hhiOq3