Mara ecosystem connectivity: Information on elephant population status and movements
for spatial planning and conservation in Narok County
The report linked at the bottom of this page, Mara ecosystem connectivity: Information on elephant population status and movements for spatial planning and conservation in Narok County, has been prepared at the invitation of the Narok County Government Department of Lands, Urban Development and Physical Planning and the County Assembly Committee on Natural Resources at a stakeholders forum on spatial plan development and resource mobilisation held in Narok on 16 - 17 October 2014.
The report presents findings of a collaborative study of elephants in the Maasai Mara ecosystem by ElephantVoices, Save the Elephants, Mara Elephant Project and Kenya Wildlife Service, and offers recommendations for the attention of Narok County. It contributes information about the status of elephants in the ecosystem, their movement patterns and habitat use for consideration in the county’s spatial planning process. The report lays emphasis on the need for urgent intervention to secure critical routes and habitats for long-term survival of elephants and to prevent escalating human elephant conflict and declining biodiversity which, if not halted, would have disastrous consequences for tourism and associated economic benefits for the Narok County and the Country.
The report highlights important habitats that have been interfered with or lost through land subdivision, settlement, fencing, and livestock grazing and maps the current extent of human settlement (see Figure 1a of the report) in the Mara ecosystem. Based on the satellite tracking of 27 elephants, it illustrates elephant movement across the ecosystem (see Figure 1b of the report). The report draws attention to critical routes used by elephants and proposes a landscape connectivity framework for sustained elephant movement (Figure 1c and detailed in Table 2 of the report).
The Maasai Mara ecosystem is an extremely valuable asset for Narok County. However, wildlife and habitats continue to decline. This deterioration is primarily attributed to competing land uses and escalating human activities that are not compatible with conservation. All wildlife and, notably, wide ranging and large bodied species, such as elephants, are negatively affected. Within the next few years the trend, if not halted, has the potential to have disastrous consequences for tourism and associated economic benefits.
The situation requires urgent attention. The report therefore recommends five priority actions for consideration by the Narok County Government for the long-term benefit of wildlife and the people of Narok County:
- Halt development in all critical conservation and migratory areas and establish protected corridors (as identified in Figure 1c and described in Table 2 of the report), to sustain biodiversity and prevent escalating human-elephant conflict. Use legal and economic instruments in consultation with local communities and landowners to this end.
- Suspend further sub-division of land and issuance of title deeds until the ongoing spatial planning process is completed and approved.
- Halt destruction by loggers, charcoal burners and settlement of the Mau Forest Complex and of the Forests of Naimina Enkiyio, Nyakweri, Mugor and Laila to protect crucial water towers, biodiversity and dry season grazing lands and to prevent escalating human-elephant conflict. Securing the Mau Forest is vital for the survival of the Mara River and the entire ecosystem.
- Manage the grazing of livestock in the MMNR and conservancies sustainably and such that elephants and other wildlife are not negatively impacted.
- Ensure the equitable and transparent sharing of benefits from the MMNR to improve livelihoods and mitigate human wildlife conflict among those communities in the Mara hosting wildlife.
We recognise that the government’s will is fundamental to the recommended changes in policy and that much more detailed mapping and planning work will need to be done to accomplish the recommendations that relate to spatial planning (see Recommendations pp 24-26). Our institutions of affiliation stand ready to support and assist the Narok County and its spatial planners in this process.
Report published May 2016.
The report can be downloaded from this page.
Click here for a direct download of a high-resolution version of the report (7 mb).
Click here for a direct download of a compressed version of the report, with figures still in decent quality (3.8 mb).