Sunday, August 24, 2014

Serengeti wildlife to access Lake Victoria's water as climate change looms large

Adam Ihucha in ETN Global Travel Industry News: Chief Ecologist with Serengeti National Park, Emilian Kihwele says that the revival of the wildlife corridor linking the vital Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem with Lake Victoria is imperative.

Mr. Kihwele says that the basin, which straddles the Kenya-Tanzania border, is adversely affected by climate change and human activities not compatible with conservation interests, putting the world’s greatest annual wildlife migration across east Africa's plains – under threat.

Planet’s largest wildlife migration – the annual loop of two million wildebeest and other mammals across the Tanzania’s legendary national park of Serengeti and Kenya’s renowned Maasai Mara reserve – is a key tourist lure, generating multi-million-dollars annually.

A leading TANAPA ecologist, Dr. James Wakibara says that ripple effects of climate change as well as large-scale irrigation and industrial activity such as mining along the sprawling basin have led to higher rates of water abstraction.

Increased clearance of the forest and cultivation, respectively, in the upper catchment of Mau escarpments in Kenya has progressively led to excessive sediment loads and altered hydrograph of the Mara River, the only source of drinking water for Serengeti-Mara ecosystem wildlife during the dry months of August-September.

Consequently, both seasonal floods and droughts have become more frequent and extreme, leading to Mara River water flow becoming unpredictable in the past few years, scientists say....

An acacia tree in Serengeti National Park, shot by Kev Moses, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license 

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