KNA Four years after the government evicted people from the Maasai Mau forest, the Mara ecosystem stakeholders have confessed increased rainfall has revamped the livelihood at the game reserve.
Despite challenges faced in the tourism industry because of the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, the hoteliers, conservators and community living around the world famous game reserve have confessed increased volume of water in the rivers.
This has nourished the wild animals and continued to attract both local and foreign visitors boosting business in the game reserve.
Siana conservancy manager Evans Sitati said there has been a consistent rainfall since the year 2018 when families were evicted out of the forestland and as a result, river Mara and river Talek, that cuts across the game reserve has continued swelling.
He recalled that in the year 2017, a major drought hit the land that led to major rivers drying up threatening the ecosystem that stretches to the neigbouring Tanzania country.
“The hippos were seen sunbathing over shallow waters as the river had completely dried up. The situation was very hopeless,” said Sitati, adding that the mammals became weak due to lack of enough food, and vulnerable to predictors.
When there is no water, the conservator said, the animals roam about looking for the precious commodity and in the process result in human – wildlife conflict.
The manager lauded the government’s efforts to restore the forest saying since the year 2018, there has been climate change as the rainfall is very consistent.
John Murage, the manager of Entumoto Tent camp, reiterated how shocking the situation was four years ago when the rivers went dry.
“It was a very desperate situation seeing the great river Mara drying up and hippos lying hopeless on dry rocks as the water points were very shallow. I would not like to see a repetition of the same,” said Murage.
However, Murage said the situation has changed since people were evicted from the forestland and the level of water has continued increasing every day.
“I am so impressed that the government is in the process of fencing the Maasai Mau forest to avoid a possibility of people returning to the great water catchment land in the future,” he said.
Bishop John Lemprukoi of Pentecostal Assembly of God (PAG) reiterated that though it was painful to get people out from the forest, the fruits are now evident as there has been a consistent water flow in the rivers.
Bishop Lemprukoi observed how dangerous it was for people to continue living in the forestland as it was a big threat to not only the humans but also plants and animals.
He lauded local leaders for being in the front line to plant trees at the Mau forest asking more institutions to volunteer and help plant trees to restore the forest.
“I have seen leaders leading residents to plant trees. Let everyone take this as a personal responsibility to plant trees so that we can get enough rainfall and live a comfortable life,” said the spiritual leader.
At the same time, the bishop called on the media to hold programmes on climate change instead of majoring on politics in a bid to educate people on the importance of conserving the forest.
“It is important for the local radios, television and newspapers to major in programmes that educate the public on climate change. Many people are not informed hence the reason they do not care when cutting trees,” he said.
Daniel Weber, a German environmentalist and tourist challenged Kenyans to conserve the environment to minimise the animal- human conflicts.
He revealed that even in his own country Germany, they have similar challenges caused by climate change where they witness prolonged dry seasons and heavy rainfall that cause floods.
The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem stretches 24, 000 Kilometers square with a perennial flowing river Mara across the game reserve, according to data from the Narok Department of Tourism,
Being one of the largest of its kind in Africa, the protection of Mara water basin is key in the survival of millions of fauna and flora species across the ecosystem.
Masses of foreign and local tourists flock to the Maasai Mara game reserve in the Kenyan side and Serengeti National Park to see a host of wild life in their natural habitat.
In 2018 and 2019, the government evicted over 50, 000 people from the Maasai Mau forest reclaiming about 47, 000 acres of forest land in the first and second phases of eviction.
Narok County Commissioner Evans Achoki has on several occasions led residents in planting trees in areas where people were evicted.
He said the government targets to plant 10 million indigenous trees in the forestland by the end of this year to restore the forest.