Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tanzania: Wildebeests' May Avoid Kenya This Year!

Early indicators show that the world-famous Serengeti Migration involving mass movement of over 2.5 million herbivores may not enter Kenya's Maasai-Mara this year.

Experts at Serengeti National Park point out that time spent by the ungulates in Maasai Mara has been falling from two months to just a few weeks in recent years, with the shortest time recorded last year (2012) when the animals stayed in Kenya for less than two weeks.

"Increasing human activities at Maasai-Mara which is the Kenyan side of the Serengeti Eco-system is what causes the annual migration of Wildebeests to reduce and eventually stop going into the vicinity altogether," explained Mr Godson Kimaro the senior Park Warden at Serengeti National Park.

He also recalled a scientific study report by the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) which had warned of imminent changes in the wildebeests migratory patterns in future. The trend has started to change.

This year the migration involving 1.5 wildebeests, 400,000 zebras and thousands of antelopes as well as gazelles (with predatory hyenas towing in the rear), seems to be spending more time than usual in the southern part of the Serengeti as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

It is thus feared that by the time the period to cross to Kenya arrives (around July/ August), the ungulates will still be farther from the border such that when the interval to start moving back south reaches, the animals may be forced to make an about-turn without reaching Maasai-Mara.

Mr Seth Mihayo, the Tourism Conservator at Serengeti National Park warned that the Maasai Mara Reserve of Kenya, which is the recipient of the annual Wildebeests Migration from Tanzania is also suffering mushrooming hotel premises, real estate developments and human activities such as cattle grazing all of which add to the effects that scare animals away.

Climate change is also taking toll in Maasai Mara where depleted natural green cover and shrinking water springs make the area hostile to wild animals.

Previously Dr James Wakibara the Serengeti Ecologist explained that until now no scientists and researchers have been able to find out what exactly causes the over 1.5 million wildebeests, 400,000 zebras and a number of gazelles that form the annual mass movements of herbivores to migrate from Tanzania to Kenya annually.

"Citing food, water, rains or predators as possible driving forces have all been theories that were never proven and likewise the their sudden change in the number of days spent in Kenya or stopping altogether moving there also need thorough study and extensive investigation," Dr Wakibara stated.

Should the wilbeeste stop going to Maasai-Mara this year, tourists and other visitors who usually come to East Africa purposely to watch the spectacular event will be compelled to view it from only Serengeti National Park and especially along the banks of Mara River. Tanzania: Wildebeests' May Avoid Kenya This Year!

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