MASAAI MARA WILDLIFE
Often called the eighth wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara is home to an unparalleled volume and variety of wildlife. Lying to the north of the Serengeti National Park, the migration of millions of wildebeest from the park to the reserve is focussed on the multiple crossings of the Mara River and its confluence with the Talek. The crossings are perilous for the wildebeest as there are large crocodiles waiting in the river and misjudged high-water can sweep as many as 3000 away. The wildebeest disperse across the vast grasslands, returning to the Serengeti to deliver on average 400,000 calves every Janaury-February.
Ecologically the reserve is a savanna dominated made up of a mosaic of grassland, forests, acacia woodland, swamps, riparian areas, coppices of orange croton and thickets of mixed trees and plants – hence the name Maa which means spotted. The hilliest part is in the far east with the quartzite Ngama Hills south of Sekenani which reach 1,800m. The main river is the Mara with headwaters in the Mau Forest, and flowing through the reserve into the Serengeti and eventually Lake Victoria. It is joined by the perennial Talek River and one or two other season rivers. However, the impacts of landuse, recent droughts and climate change is beginning to alter the flows in these rivers making water access far more unpredictable for wildlife.
The area around Sekenani is home to large numbers of elephants, lions, cheetahs, buffalo, zebras, wildebeest, leopards, jackals, spotted hyenas, bat-eared foxes, giraffes, warthogs, antelopes and gazelles, topi, waterbuck, eland, hippos and crocodiles. Small population of black rhinos and most recently wild dogs can also be seen. More than 500 species of savanna birds have been recorded including conspicuous perennials such as the superb starling, lilac-breasted roller, little bee-eaters, turacos, rufus-bellied herons, storks, plover and wading birds, ground-species such as hornbills, ostrich, kori bustard, secretary bird and many species of raptors and vultures.
The forests and grasslands are also the source of more than 150 trees and plant species which are widely used by the Maasai for cultural and medicinal purposes. (link to project on Heritage trees)
Altogether, the Greater Mara Ecosystem is truly a wonder of our living planet.