KENYAN WILDLIFE EXPERTS DISMISS SUGGESTIONS OF ‘MISSING MIGRATION’ AS NONSENSE
Two Kenyan wildlife and conservation experts have dismissed with prejudiceas one of them put it in an overnight communication, suggestions floated in the Tanzanian media that the annual migration may not reach Kenya’s Masai Mara later this year.
‘I have no idea what the quoted individual is up to’ wrote one of them before adding ‘but for sure he needs to get the facts right. If anyone claims the migration was only two weeks in the Masai Mara last year, that is simply not true. It casts doubts over the motive for such misleading statements. The migration last year was there and between the arrival of the first herds crossing the river and the last remnants leaving it was about 11 weeks start to finish. The records are there, we now have Facebook accounts which deal with the migration in the Masai Mara and they document their sightings every day. I can only conclude that this is yet another act of trying to desperately de-campaign Kenya’s Masai Mara destination by throwing mud and making false statements. Besides that, there are always resident populations of wildebeest and zebras in the Masai Mara though admittedly it is the spectacle of the great migration every year which is the biggest event in the reserve’.
The other source was even more candid when writing: ‘This is now a regular thing some individuals do year after year. I am not surprised at the so called ‘expert’ quoted in the Tanzanian media. Previous suggestions of similar nature have failed to happen. What should concern all of us is the case about plans to build a highway across the park, because that would destroy the migration and by broad consensus of wildlife experts decimate the great herds to a fraction of their size today. Secondly, there are rumours about the railway from Tanga to Musoma, where the Tanzanians want to construct a new lake port to connect to Uganda. Is this railway going to go all the way around the Serengeti? Bypassing Mwanza where a port exists already? Or are there hidden plans to have the railroad also run across the Serengeti which would be the most direct route? These are issues we should concern ourselves with, poaching should be an issue, not playing cheap competitive tricks’.
The comments came alongside reminders of allegations that fires were laid last year in the path of the approaching migration juggernaut to keep the herds from their direct course towards the Mara River, which they have to cross, running a gauntlet of crocodiles in the process, to reach the pastures in the Kenyan Masai Mara. Tanzanian source last year denied categorically that any burning was done with such intent but with this latest acid outpouring it is expected that there will be close monitoring of any fires laid or started from May or June onwards and located in the approach path of the great migration, to see if a similar pattern emerges like last year.
‘The great migration, like shown in Alan Root’s film The Year of The Wildebeest, is ancient in its nature. The great herds follow the pastures, which is the only way to stay well fed and survive. Therefore they migrate every year those long distances. They return to the low grass plains between Ngorongoro and the Serengeti every December before they calf. The grass is rich in calcium and this is the last stage of their pregnancies before they give birth by the tens of thousands and then start migrating again. When they cross to the Mara they do so because there is not enough food for them elsewhere in the ecosystem. Before they come to the Mara the grass is high and they go through like lawnmowers and by the time they leave back to Tanzania they have eaten everything in their path and then follow fresh pastures to complete the cycle’ added the first source.
Like last year, it will be again a game of wait and see, and watch from the distance while weighing the facts of the migration of last year before rushing into judgment. Watch this space therefore starting from June onwards when the ‘scouts’ traditionally reach the Mara River and then expect links to key websites and webcams now in place to show what is happening in the world of the wildebeest.