Dar es Salaam — Tanzania said yesterday it was paying close attention to reports that a tourist camp in the Maasai Mara in Kenya has blocked an important wildebeest route.
Wildebeest migration is one of the greatest tourism spectacles that the Serengeti Park in Tanzania, and Maasai Mara in Kenya, enjoy between July and October with thousands of tourists making the journey from across the world.
The animals migrate in search of new pastures and water. But their migration ‘freedom’ is being threatened after a video emerged earlier this week of a group of people – believed to be workers of tourist camp in the Maasai Mara – forcing a herd of the wildebeests to change their route after crossing the river.
The water pressure apparently caused a stampede and an unknown number of animals are said to have died as a result.
Being a common heritage for the two countries, the Tanzania minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, said yesterday that Tanzania was keenly watching the situation, saying the issue would be handle amicably.
“I assure you all that, since Maasai-Mara is part and parcel of the Great Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, through our trans-border conservation initiatives, we will discuss and solve this matter immediately and amicably, for the survival of our shared heritage,” he said.
He said such a camp would not have received the relevant approvals to be built in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, noting that the video had really disturbed.
His deputy, Mr Constantine Kanyasu, shared similar sentiments, noting however that Tanzania was happy to learn that Kenya has taken an initiative to order the removal of the camp.
“As Tanzanians, we remain calm even as we pay keen interest on what is happening,” he said.
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He said blocking nature from taking its course would have disastrous outcomes on both countries. “Doing so would result into the death of some animals and both Tanzania and Kenya stand to lose out in the process,” he said.
Kenya’s Tourism minister Najib Balala is on record as having ordered removal of a tourist camp built next to the Mara River which is blocking the famous wildebeest migration.
“I have discussed with Narok Governor Samuel Tunai, about the camp built beside the Mara River, blocking the wildebeest crossing. It’s very disturbing, and we expect the Governor to take action and have the camp removed,” Balala said.
“I have also insisted that we need a Maasai Mara National Reserve Management Plan that will not only enhance biodiversity, but also protect our wildlife migratory corridors, from human greed!”
The wildebeest migration – considered one of the modern wonders of the world – is an annual event that sees over two million animals migrating from the Maasai Mara to Serengeti.
Nature lovers have called it the greatest show on earth.
The wildebeest after entering the Mara, head northwards towards River Talek, where they graze and mate every year on their journey of chasing greener pastures.
From July to October, the wildebeests move between the western and eastern sides of the river, crossing it at different points almost daily, to the Mara triangle side of the reserve – and then back to the greater Mara.