We’re familiar with the Great Migration, where approximately 2 million beautiful beings move around within the Serengeti ecosystem, chasing what the fresh rains have provided: greener pastures. Comprised mostly of wildebeest, and some hundreds of thousands of zebras and antelope, they are constantly on the move, navigating the dangers of big cats and dogs on the plains, and the mammoth crocs and hippos wading in the river. It is declared one of the greatest wildlife shows on the planet. And what a grand spectacle it truly is.
Behind the scenes however, an ecological disaster is taking place.
The source of this magnificent Mara River, which provides the life-giving water to these wondrous creatures, is the Mau Forest- the largest forest in Kenya, up in the hills, and is rapidly shrinking. In the last 20 years, more than a quarter of the forest has been decimated by human development and agricultural activities. The water flowing from it is increasingly lesser and lower in quality, and in certain periods, droughts at the Mara ensue, resulting in widespread animal deaths. Last year the water flowing out of the Mau was at an all-time low.
A lot rests on this forest, which also powers the country’s hydroelectric plants, and fuels key agricultural exports such as tea.
The issue of resettling communities that live there, all of whom have land title deeds, remains at large. While it has been done before with successful partnerships between conservancies and the Maasai, time ticks along for the Mau Forest, and this issue remains one of the biggest threats to the Maasai Mara and the massive ecosystem in which it belongs.
We must ensure that all areas are protected soon enough, before the Mara River runs dry, and before the Great Migration won’t be so great anymore. It will just be no more.