Maasai Mara, Kenya
In Kenya we will be working in the Maasai Mara which is home to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Migration of wildebeest. The Maasai Mara national reserve covers an area of roughly 1500Km2 and sits on the Tanzanian border connected to the most northern edge of the Serengeti National Park.
Chosen as the field site to represent grassland savanna biomes, the Maasai Mara is world renowned for its high densities of carnivores and is host to thousands of tourists every month from all over the globe. This international interest has led to some of the communities surrounding the national reserve to team up and put aside some of their land to form conservancies which they then rent out to high end tourist companies for exclusive access. This land has added roughly 1000Km2 of additional wildlife area to the National Reserve. The communities also use these conservancies as grass banks for livestock during the dry seasons and each conservancy has a different management approach for grazing. We will be working in a number of these conservancies alongside the national reserve to try to quantify how the different management practices affect the diversity of mammals in each area. Our main tool in this site is camera traps of which we have 250 in 5 different grids of 50.
Whilst a lot of research has been carried out in the Maasai Mara the main focus has always been the large charismatic species such as lions, cheetah, elephant and hyaena. As a result very little is known about the more cryptic species such as leopard, serval, caracal, bat-eared fox and pangolin. We hope that alongside the biodiversity study we may be able to give new insights into the populations of these more unknown species to benefit their conservation.