Maasai Mara National Reserve: IBA IN FOCUS

The Maasai Mara ecosystem is home to approximately twenty-five per cent of Kenya’s wildlife. It hosts more than 95 mammal species besides being a recognized Important Bird Area (IBA). Presently, about 70 per cent of this wildlife is living outside the gazetted conservation area – the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Adjacent land owned by local communities form key dispersal and diversity areas.

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s most-visited protected area. It is world famous for its high density of herbivores and predators and the spectacular annual migrations of wildebeest. In 1996, the reserve was nominated for designation as a World Heritage Site.

Habitats in the Masaai Mara are varied, including open rolling grassland, riverine forest, Acacia woodland, swamps, non-deciduous thickets, boulder-strewn escarpments, and Acacia, Croton and Tarchonanthus scrub.

The Mara’s extensive grasslands are a stronghold for the threatened, migratory corn crake and the near threatened, restricted-range Jackson’s widow bird. The woodlands around the reserve are probably the centre of abundance for the threatened, restricted-range grey-crested helmet shrike. The restricted-range rufous-tailed weaver has recently been sighted within the reserve, near the southern border, and may be expanding its range northwards. More than 500 other bird species are known to occur, including 12 species of Cisticola and 53 birds of prey. Grassland birds are especially well represented. Large numbers of Palearctic migrants winter in the area, including Caspian plover and white stork.

Friends of Maasai Mara (FoMM) is the Maasai Mara IBA site support group (SSG). Since its formation in 2014, Friends of Maasai Mara has addressed critical environmental and wildlife biodiversity conservation and protection actions meant to create awareness and sustainable conservation among the community, government, and other stakeholders.