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The Masai Mara's dwindling wildlife


Animals galore no more? A new report says that numbers of wildlife have fallen drastically in Kenya's Masai Mara national park, largely thanks to poaching and a massive increase in cattle grazing.


Roberto Schmidt

Wild animal numbers in Kenya’s world famous Masai Mara game reserve have declined massively over the last 30-years according to a study published in the Journal of Zoology.

The new research shows that numbers of many wild animals have dropped by as much as 70%.

At the same time numbers of cattle illegally taken to graze in the Mara have increased by 1,100% over the same three-decade period. Poaching has also played a hugely negative role.

Speaking to the BBC one of the report’s authors, Dr Joseph Ogutu at the University of Hohenheim in Germany, said: “We were very surprised by what we found. The Mara has lost more than two-thirds of its wildlife.”

The report’s authors wrote: “We found that wildlife populations in the Mara region declined progressively after 1977, with few exceptions.”

“Populations of almost all wildlife species have declined to a third or less of their former abundance both in the protected Masai Mara National Reserve and in the adjoining pastoral ranches. Human influences appeared to be the fundamental cause.”

Dr Ogutu warned that the Mara’s reputation as a conservation area and tourist attraction was threatened by the declines.