safariLIVE has been fortunate enough to showcase some of the most extraordinary wilderness areas on the planet, one of which is the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
While WE have been filming spectacular scenes of cheetah chasing down antelope or hordes of wildebeest throwing themselves across the Mara River, the beauty and splendour has often eclipsed the reality of how this pristine wilderness area is protected. The more time WE have spent in Kenya, the more opportunity WE have had to see just how much dedicated work goes into protecting the Maasai Mara, including the Mara Triangle.
In 2001 the Mara Conservancy, a non-profit private management company, was established to take over the management of the 510 square kilometre Mara Triangle in collaboration with the Trans Mara County Council. They inherited something of a fixer-upper. The infrastructure was neglected, the roads nearly unusable, corruption with park fee collection was the norm and, most concerningly, poaching and banditry were rife. Poachers with their rifles, spears, poisoned arrows and indiscriminate wire snares were decimating the antelope population and elephant and hippo were often targeted. The black rhino had all but vanished. Tourists brave enough to venture into the Triangle frequently found themselves unceremoniously divested of their possessions. The Mara Triangle, a reserve that makes up a third of the Mara ecosystem, was in jeopardy.
(Image Credit: Geraldine Kent)
Undeterred, the Mara Conservancy set about undoing the damage years of mismanagement had wrought on the reserve. The roads were repaired and improved to be able to cope with high volumes of traffic and water until the road network that we use today was created. The infrastructure at the gates and border posts was repaired and expanded to make room for civilian staff and rangers that were employed to keep the animals (and tourists) of the reserve safe. Corruption was systematically stamped out and the money from the park fees began to feed into improving the reserve. Tourists began to return to the Triangle, their numbers increasing slowly but surely.
The proof of their success over the last 17 years is clear: lions and rhino have returned to areas of the Triangle that they had not frequented in years, the grass is lush and green, the roads are kept open despite the high rainfall, rangers are seen at every sensitive sighting, the animals are far safer than they have ever been and, most importantly, the communities that live on the border have the best possible relationship of trust with the Triangle officials. Now that the Triangle has been rehabilitated, the Conservancy has to deal with the daily work of maintaining it. Combating poaching is a constant battle and the cross-border collaboration with the Serengeti National Park is a testament to their proficiency.
(Image Credit: Scott Dyson)
WE have chosen to collaborate with the Mara Conservancy to showcase their success and their continued efforts to protect the Triangle. In our social media dominated world, outrage and petitions for support for individual animals (while important in their own right) take centre stage and the real grunt work that goes into conserving an area and all of the species within it goes largely unnoticed and unacknowledged. The heroes of the Conservancy: its administrators, its road crews and the brave rangers who fight poaching threats head-on, deserve recognition for what is truly an astounding achievement. They have taken a reserve on the brink of disaster and transformed it into a conservation icon. And they are keeping it that way.
You can visit the Mara Conservancy website at www.maratriangle.org to learn more about their work and to see the full statistics of what they have accomplished. Their Monthly Report Archives date back to 2001 and tell the full history and reality of the Mara Triangle unflinchingly. It is a story of true conservation at work.
Written By: Jamie Paterson
Thanks WE for your good work, and thanks to Louise too for this nice write up