Counties

Concerns arise over fenced land bordering Maasai Mara

Tourists watch as  wildebeests cross Mara river  in the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Tourists watch as wildebeests cross Mara river in the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in 2016. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Conservationists have raised concerns over fencing of private land bordering the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, saying it has interfered with wildlife corridors.

According to the chief executive of Mara Triangle Conservancy Mr Brian Heath, most game ranches in Narok County had been sold off by the owners to private developers, who have since fenced them.

This phenomenon, Mr Heath said, would pose serious risk of human-wildlife-conflict.

“In order to curb this trend, conservancies should talk to local communities to ensure that they don’t fence off their land so that wild animals can pass through,” he said.

He said the national government and Kenya Wildlife Service should work towards ensuring the animals are secure, by working with land owners to see conservation as a viable form of land use.

Major threat

According to conservationists, fencing of individual lands around the park, which began five years ago, is emerging as a major threat to the ecosystem within the Maasai Mara.

“Since the land was subdivided to individuals, they have a right to fence but we are looking for ways to negotiate with the community,” Mr Heath stated.

Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association CEO Dickson ole Kaelo echoed the sentiments, saying the 17 conservancies have come up with management plans to curb the trend after they realised it was a threat to the ecosystem.

He said the fencing of farms around the Maasai Mara National Game Reserve is a threat to the wildlife ecosystem as it interferes with the wildlife migratory corridors.

Responsible tourism

Mr Kaelo said conservancies were set up to protect and conserve wildlife and to work in partnership with local communities, from whom the land was leased for responsible tourism purposes.

Mr Heath said conservation has to be seen as legitimate viable form of land use.

“Otherwise wildlife will continue to decline, since the land owners are not seeing it as legitimate,” he stated.