Masai Mara

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The Masai Mara National Reserve (also spelled "Maasai Mara" and known by the locals as 'the Mara') is a large game reserve in south-western Kenya, which is effectively the northern continuation of the Serengeti National Park game reserve in Tanzania. Named after the Maasai people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar - "Mara", which is Maa (Maasai language) for "spotted": an apt description for the circles of trees, scrub, savannah and cloud shadows that mark the area.

It is famous for its exceptional population of Big Cats, game, and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson's gazelle and wildebeest from the Serengeti every year from July to October, a migration so immense it is called the Great Migration.

The Masai Mara National Reserve is only a fraction of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes the following Group Ranches; Koiyaki, Lemek, Ol Chorro Oirowua, Olkinyei, Siana, Maji Moto, Naikara, Ol Derkesi, Kerinkani, Oloirien and Kimintet.

Contents

History

When it was originally established in 1948 as a Wildlife Sanctuary, the Mara covered only 520 square kilometres (200 sq mi) of the current area, including the Mara Triangle. The area was extended to the east in 1961 to cover 1,821 km2 (703 sq mi) and converted to a Game Reserve. The Narok County Council (NCC) took over management of the reserve at this time. Part of the Game Reserve was given National Reserve status in 1974, and the remaining 159 km2 (61 sq mi) were returned to local communities. An additional 162 km2 (63 sq mi) were removed from the reserve in 1976, and the park was reduced to 1,510 km2 (580 sq mi) in 1984.[2]

In 1995, the TransMara County Council (TMCC) was formed in the Western part of the reserve, and control was divided between the new council and the existing Narok County Council. In May 2001, the not-for-profit Mara Conservancy took over management of the Mara Triangle.[2]

Geography

The Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) covers some 1,510 km2 (583 sq mi)[1] in south-western Kenya. It is the northern-most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which covers some 25,000 km2 (9,700 sq mi) in Tanzania and Kenya. It is bounded by the Serengeti Park to the south, the Siria escarpment to the west, and Maasai pastoral ranches to the north, east and west. Rainfall in the ecosystem increases markedly along a southeast–northwest gradient, varies in space and time, and is markedly bimodal. The Sand, Talek River and Mara River are the major rivers draining the reserve. Shrubs and trees fringe most drainage lines and cover hillslopes and hilltops.

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