Monday, 24 September 2012

Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve under Depletion

Masai Mara national reserve which is Kenya’s leading safari destination and a pillar of the Sh100 billion tourism sectors for decades. Unfortunately this reserve, popular for its annual wildebeest’s migration might end up becoming pale shadow of itself resulting from the imbalance between the expansion of tourism and this on going natural degradation but fortunate for Tanzania’s Serengeti national park is the fact that it is the major benefactor in this and they are within the same ecosystem although has got better management policies thus the increasing number of animals.
Meanwhile Masai Mara’s problems are partly attributed to the increasing number of tourist lodges and camps that are competing for space and therefore pushing wildlife that are so sensitive to human activities like lion, rhino, and elephant to other locations like to Serengeti in Tanzania.  This means that Kenya is at the risk of losing its most popular tourist attraction which is the annual Wildebeest Migration.
Most of the Tanzanians who are living around the Serengeti Game Reserve are said to have set the area on fire causing a delay in the crossing of the wildebeest from Serengeti plains into Kenya in July this year. However that’s no reason because according to the experts, the major problem is the increasing human activities on the Kenyan side of the Serengeti eco-system and this will with in a short period of time become threat to the animals and therefore discourage them from crossing over in future as the case has been for the past so many years and attracting so many tourists thus improving the industry.
All the assumption follow the sudden change in these animals’ migratory patterns because these wildebeests used to stayed for 3 months in Kenya but of recent, they stayed fro just three weeks and they ran back to Tanzania. And this according to Seth Mihayo a Tourism Conservator at Serengeti National Park, the Masai Mara Reserve of Kenya which is the recipient of the annual wildebeests migration from Tanzania is being affected by the growing numbers of hotels as well as human activities like cattle grazing and constant cutting down of the natural green cover making the place unbearable for them so they rush back home.
This is a serious threat to the Kenya’s tourism industry especially since most of East African countries’ economies largely depend on tourism. The annual wildebeest’s migration attracts thousands of tourists and if they stop crossing to Kenya because Masai game reserve is no longer in good condition that will mean a reduction in the number of tourists who will be visiting not only Kenya but also Tanzania to witness the migration, thus a huge impact on the industry.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

New Trail Set to Ease Climbing on the Rwenzori

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) with its other partners has built a new trail on the Rwenzori Mountains to complement the existing two for visitors to experience the destination in shorter 1-3 day walks than before when it was 6-12 day treks.

Rwenzori Mountain has the third highest peak in Africa and lies in the western part of Uganda along the Uganda- Democratic Republic of Congo border. The new Mahoma nature trail is 28kms long ending at the Nyakalengijo gate of the national park. It traverses the lower slopes of the mountain to join the existing central circuit trail that connects to the main gate of the park.

UWA hopes to increase the number of tourism activities at the park and therefore attract a broader market in the region. "The trail was developed to diversify the options available to the visitors in order to enjoy touring the park", said Mr. Stephen Kigoolo of UWA during the grand opening of the new facilities in Kampala recently.

A new visitor information center also has been built on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains to ease access to information by the tourists. A Rwenzori mountains visitor information center has been built with interpretive information about the mountain as well as a restaurant and other services. "A new lodge linked to the visitor center has also been opened to service visitors to the park and complement the existing community camps in the region", said Mr. Fred Kizza, the senior warden- in- charge, Rwenzori Mountains National Park He said the visitor information center offers information about the history and ecology of the mountains and their people.

Lions from Queen Elizabeth on the Loose

Three lions which are said to have escaped from Ishasha Sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kanungu are reportedly terrorising residents of Kihiihi.

Kihiihi LC3 on Thursday said the lions attacked the home of Bawuda Ednansi who lives close to the park and killed five of his goats on Tuesday night. He said fortunately no one was hurt during the raid. The residents made alarm after the attack forcing the lions to retreat before attacking again the following day. He said this time they were driven away by park rangers deployed after the local authorities complained to Uganda Wildlife Authority over the lions.

"We are living in total fear and we don't know if the lions will go on forever like this. Our plea that they allow us hunt them down has been denied," a resident said.  The Lions roam the whole village of Ishasha during the day and although the UWA officials are aware of their hide out and they have failed to drive them away. When contacted the Warden in charge of Ishasha Sector Echodu Edryau said the lions have been elusive and asked locals to be patient.

Uganda Ebola Free

Uganda will officially be declared Ebola-free on October 4. In a statement from the ministry of health issued on Friday, the director general of health services said the country was safe for all people including foreigners intending to travel in and out of the country.
He, however, stated that they would continue monitoring communities in order not to risk another outbreak. "The surveillance team is currently stationed in Arua district to monitor the Ebola situation on the Congo side of the border," Lwamafa stated.
According to the World Health Organization surveillance criteria, an affected country must monitor the situation for 42 days after the last Ebola patient is discharged, before finally declaring that the outbreak is over. They clarified that there is currently no travel ban in any part of the country, including Kibaale district which was the epicentre of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the ministry said the structures previously set up at hospitals to contain the outbreak were still operational to combat any potential risks.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Modern Life 'Puts Off Wildebeests at Maasai Mara'

Increasing human activities on the Kenyan side of the Serengeti Eco-system is likely to discourage wildebeests from going to Maasai Mara in future as they have been doing for years in their annual migration forays. This assumption stems from the sudden change in the animals' migratory patterns when, instead of spending two months in Kenya's Maasai Mara, they stayed there for only three weeks and rushed back to Tanzania.

A tourism Conservationist at Serengeti National Park, warned that the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya, which is the recipient of the migrating wildebeests from Tanzania, is currently experiencing mushrooming hotel premises. The game sanctuary also experiences increased human activities such as cattle grazing and natural green cover is almost depleted. "Wildebeests usually travel in groups but a single car or a group of people is enough to stop the entire herd causing them to change their route.

"You can then imagine the effect of the presence of massive buildings, numerous motor vehicles and domestic animals cutting across their paths," an ecologist at Serengeti, explained that until now no scientist or researcher has been able to find out what exactly causes the 1.5 million-strong herd of wildebeests and the nearly 300,000 zebras to migrate from Tanzania to Kenya.

The herd also comprises gazelles and other browsers and grazers. "Shortage of food and water or the presence of predators could be the possible driving forces that are likely to cause the massive movement of the wild animals. However, these assumptions have never been proved. The sudden, untimely return of the migratory wild animals to Tanzania, from Kenya, has left scientists baffled. "This sudden behavioural change needs to be studied closely," says Dr Wakibara.

The ecologist admits that it is not normal for the wild animals to cut short their stay in Kenya and rush back home in the Serengeti National Park. A Public Relations Manager with Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), pointed out that in the past the animals used to go to as far as Maswa Game Reserve in Meatu District of Shinyanga in their southward annual migration. "But this is no longer the case today," he says. The migrating animals cut short their stay in Maasai Mara and started an untimely journey to the south. This time some of the travelling animals reached Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Experts in animal behaviour believe that human activities in Maswa District may have frightened the animals.

The Executive Secretary of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) said that he believed that climate change had something to do with this sudden change in the behaviour of migrating animals. "Since it has happened for the first time this year, we may have to wait until next year to see if the same pattern is repeated.”Then, as tour operators, we will change our programme calendars and fliers to inform the entire world that the Serengeti wildlife migration times and patterns have changed." The TATO executive also admitted to have heard and even received concerns regarding the environment destruction on the Kenyan side of the Serengeti Eco-system. He cautioned that the phenomenon is likely to affect future migrations. "But here at TATO we are not worried because the animals will remain in Tanzania and this means that all tourists will be coming here instead of going to Kenya," they concluded