Want to walk on David Attenborough’s footsteps? Fly off to Kenya and stop at Maasai Mara! Maasai Mara National Reserve or, in short, The Mara is a large game reserve located in Narok County, Kenya and contiguous to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
Named after the former inhabitants of the area, the Maasai people, and the description of the area seen from afar ‘Mara’, which means ‘spotted’, because of the shadows that clouds create over the region, and the circles of trees, savanna and scrub.
Established in 1961 as a wildlife sanctuary, Maasai Mara initially covered only 520 square kilometers (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. It was then extended to the east to cover 1,821 square kilometers (703 sq mi) and converted to the game reserve that it is today. The Narok County Council (NCC) took over management of the wildlife preserve in 1961 and in 1974 it was given the status of a National Reserve, when the remaining 159 sq Km (61 sq mi) were returned to the local community.
In 1984, the Mara was reduced to 1510 sq Km (580 sq mi) and 10 years later, in 1994 the TransMara County Council (TMCC) was established in the western part of the park. In May 2001, Maasai Mara was taken over by the non-profit organisation Mara Conservancy. It represents only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes several Group Ranches such as Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien, and Kimintet.
The altitude ranges between 1500 and 2180m, rainfall 83mm/month and temperature ranges between 12 and 30 ℃.
The game reserve is particularly famous for its thriving population of Maasai lions, African leopards, Tanzanian cheetahs and a lot more. In July the Great Migration starts and it lasts till October. This is when the zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest begin their annual quest for pastures and breeding.
Large predators like the lion and the leopard are also vigilant and get on the move. Also, other large mammals, such as the African elephant, cape buffalo, hippos, crocs, and black rhinoceros can be found in Maasai Mara. The black rhino population was quite numerous in the 1960s, but it was dramatically depleted by pouching in the 1970s and 1980s dropping to as low as 15 individuals only in the whole park. Numbers have been gradually improving since, however, in 1999 the estimated rhino population only counted 23 individuals.
Hyenas, jackals and bat-eared foxes, impalas, Grant’s gazelles, duikers, antelopes, Masai giraffe, and over 470 bird species complete the WILD picture.