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Drought forces wildebeests back to Mara

27 November 2013, 08:19

Narok - Thousands of wildebeests that moved to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania in September have returned to the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.

According to the environmentalists, the unusual occurrence is necessitated by the drought that is currently ravaging parts of Serengeti plains.

Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator for Lake Victoria Basin Nicholas Murero said Tuesday that lack of pasture due to drought has forced the wildebeests to come back to Mara ecosystem where the grazing land is enough.

"They exhausted everything in Serengeti plains and returned to Mara where there are enough pastures that regenerated after tourism peak seasons in Mara that started in July," Morero said in Narok.

He exuded confidence that abnormal occurrence will boost the tourism sector in the county.

"This implies that the tourists who did not witness the spectacular wildebeests' migration between July and October have another chance to catch a glimpse when they are crossing Mara River to Maasai Mara. And this will increase the tourists arrivals as we head to Christmas festivities and New Year celebrations," he noted.

The peak season in Masai Mara Game Reserve starts when hundreds of wildebeests cross from Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to Kenya in July.

The mass of over 2 million animals cover the savannah and grasslands as far as the eye can see.

The period between October and November is when the short rains begin to fall in the south and east Serengeti, so the herds start to leave the Maasai Mara, crossing the Mara River yet again, bringing all the same perils.

The annual migration of 1 million wildebeest (Gnu) from Serengeti National park to Maasai Mara has placed Mara one of seven wonders of the world in 2006.

Recently, Narok Governor Samuel Tunai said he is planning to form a county tourist marketing board that will help to widen its marketing scope.

Tunai said that the board will develop and grow the market of the Maasai Mara game reserve by utilizing their skills that will market it within the country and abroad.

He said the move will enable the facility to leap ahead of the competition and optimize its marketing investments for higher value outcomes.

The county boss said his government will also be keen in reviving tourist attraction scene as a way of creating employment to the many jobless youths in the county.

"We should take advantage of it by improving the infrastructure leading there as well as marketing it both locally and internationally," said Tunai.

More than 1.2 million tourists have been visiting Kenya annually. Out of the total number, 700,000 tourists have been visiting Maasai Mara.

- Xinhua

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