Thursday, September 16, 2010

Decline of Human-Wildlife Conflict in Kenya's Masai Mara National Park

Tourism in Kenya's Masai Mara National Park

The Masai Mara National Park of Kenya is one of the two well-known national parks in East Africa. The second one being the majestic Serengeti National Park, which lies along the Kenya-Tanzania border. Both of these national parks boast a bountiful of wildlife, attracting thousands of tourists from all around the world just to view the animals that make home in the vast stretches of savanna grasslands and forests. But despite the serene beauty of nature, these natural wonders of the world have always been hot-beds for illegal poaching activities and human-wildlife conflicts which have put both people and animals in danger. However recently, things have changed as the incidents of poaching and human-wildlife conflicts came to a decline.

According to one conservationist, the reduction of poaching and human-wildlife conflicts in the Masai Mara were due to joint surveillance patrols between Kenya and Tanzania. The patrols were conducted by an organization known as Mara Conservancy. It is a private company that manages an area known as the Mara Triangle, which is the North Western part of the national park. Its chief executive officer, Brian Heath, stated that the numbers of tourists have increased as a result of the patrols. He also said that poaching activities and human conflicts with wildlife had a negative impact on tourism, as many visitors connected the issues to insecurity. The poachers, who used to prowl the grasslands and forests of Kenya and Tanzania, have now found it difficult to commit their crimes in one country and hide in another thanks to the ties between the two nations' security personnel. In addition to that, Mr. Heath even made it clear that the conflicts between people and wild animals have also reduced by the anti-poaching unit personnel and sensitization campaigns on the need for neighboring communities to peacefully coexist with the wildlife. Mr. Heath also stated that efforts have been made to keep the wild animals inside Masai Mara to minimize the chances of them wreaking havoc in any of the communities.

I'm very glad and proud to see that Masai Mara National Park has taken a big step in protecting its local wildlife and the tourist industry. The game reserve, where popular BBC nature series Big Cat Diary was filmed, has also joined forces with its neighbor the Serengeti National Park as a way to diminish any poaching activities. Part of the reason for this partnership I think has to do with the annual migration of herbivores, as they migrate from Masai Mara to the Serengeti and back depending on the season. And wherever the animals go, the hunters follow. But the main reason for these two famous national parks to join hands is to protect their wildlife and keep tourism going. The Masai Mara is also making further progress in minimizing the chances of any conflicts between the wild animals and people, both local and international. All I can say is "keep up the good work," and hopefully this plan in Masai Mara can be an inspiration for other national parks in Africa.

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