Balala orders removal of camp after wildebeest blocked from crossing Mara River

Wildebeests during their annual migration at Maasai Mara National game reserve in Narok county on August 23, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has demanded the removal of a tourist camp built next to the Mara River and is blocking the famous wildebeest crossing.

This was after people believed to be workers of the camp were seen in a video 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.

The video elicited reactions online forcing Balala to issue a statement.

“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 greed!"

The wildebeest migration which is one of the wonders of the world is an annual event that sees over two million animals migrate from the Mara to Tanzania.

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 back to the greater Mara.

There have been concerns over illegal tourist resorts in the reserve with animal lovers calling for their removal.

The Maasai Mara Management Plan which was supposed to be ready by August 31 is aimed at controlling the flow of tourists and investments into the world-famous reserve in a bid to protect its ecosystem, is yet to be gazzetted.

The plan will see the government shut down some tourist facilities and issue permits to lodge developers in a more controlled manner.

Balala had visited the Mara last month and said the plan is expected to preserve the Mara and reverse the damage caused by high human traffic and commercial interests in the reserve.