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Maasai Mara National Reserve

Maasai Mara National Reserve

From its beginning in 1948 with 200 square miles, the Maasai Mara National Reserve has expanded through the decades to nearly triple its original size. As southern Kenya’s premiere wildlife sanctuary, the Mara merges with Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to form an exceptional 6,000 square mile conservation area that is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife.

One of the most impressive natural spectacles in the world is the great migration which takes place each July and October between the Mara and Serengeti ecosystems. Crossing the plains in search of fresh pasture, 1,300,000 wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelles, 200,000 zebra, and hundreds of thousands of other plains game participate in this phenomenon. Of course, predators such as lion and hyena follow the herds, hoping to prey on the young calves, aged wildebeest, and straggling animals. The sheer concentration and diversity of wildlife provide unparalleled viewing opportunities for visitors.

All of Africa’s “big five” call the Maasai Mara home: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhino. In addition, many antelope species flourish including Grant’s gazelles, impalas, duikers, Coke’s hartebeests, and roan antelopes. Hippopotamus and Nile crocodile inhabit the Mara and Talek rivers, which are the major suppliers of fresh water to the reserve. Other magnificent animals abound, including cheetah, jackal, bat-eared fox, and almost 500 bird species.

Unlike most other national parks in Kenya, the Maasai Mara National reserve is administered by local authorities, giving the native Maasai people an integral part in the running of the park and protection of the wildlife.

Activities provided by the safari camps in the region center around wildlife viewing and include daily and nightly game drives in open 4x4 vehicles, walking safaris, birdwatching ventures, horseback safaris, camel-back safaris, hot-air balloon safaris, and visits to traditional Maasai villages.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve functions as a live research facility for a variety of conservation and preservation projects including Michigan State University’s spotted hyena project, the Mara Predator Project, and an initiative to develop a trans-boundary river basin management plan between Kenya and Tanzania in order to provide water to over 1,000,000 people.

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