By Steve Kinuthia
I could not have closed the year on a worse tone.
The wildebeest migration came to an end in a grand style, but it was not anything to write home, or even smile about.
As yours truly has pointed out before in this column, the wildebeests migration has been overemphasised in promoting the Maasai Mara during the high season. And it has had a great impact. The number of visitors during the high season has increased tremendously. Good for the hotels and good for the tour operators. A lot of money was earned by the players in the hotel industry, who double the average cost of staying in the Mara during such times. But what has that done to the migrating animals?
I was in the Mara during the last week of migration as the wildebeests retreated to the Serengeti plains. This year, the Mara river was not overly flooded since there was not much rain towards the end of September and beginning of November. So most of the gnus were able to cross without much effort.
But as the fame of the Mara and the crossing spread all over the world and all sorts of visitors streamed to the Mara and headed straight for the river, the gnus are finding it very difficult to continue doing what they have done for years. They have designed some very popular crossing points where both banks are well slanted for easy descent and ascent. On the conservancy side of the Mara, the rangers have even put up a sign board warning clients and the drivers not to come out of their vehicles or sit on the roofs. This is to discourage any small disturbance to a group of wildebeests who chose to cross from this particular spots.
But due to the sheer number of visitors who have come from far and wide and paid a lot of money to see this eighth wonder of the new world, the authorities cannot cope with the rowdy tourists and overworked drivers. More....