Fencing meeting

The Research Hub organized a “Meeting of the Minds” workshop in July 2019 to discuss the widespread fencing in the Mara that has adversely affected wildlife populations and threatened Kenya’s last remaining mammal migration. A policy paper was developed after the meeting and the findings shared with the County government.

A database consisting of more than 100 researchers was developed. A survey was circulated to everyone on the database as a tool to engage with those already working in the ecosystem as well as to better understand the activities of each person/institution.

A steering committee was formed to help establish a management framework for the organization. The steering committee which is currently functioning as the Board meets monthly to review the progress made and to set strategies on the way forward.

Data sharing meeting

A second meeting to collate data from the ecosystem was held in November 2019. A two-day researchers workshop which brought together representatives from Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS), Narok County Government (NCG), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Wildlife Trust (KWT), Mara Elephant Project (MEP), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO), Indigenous Livelihood Enhancement Partners (ILEPA), Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) and Pardamat Conservation Area( PCA) was held where the participants agreed to share the datasets that they hold as well as work on drafting a conservation scenario policy for Narok County which would be included in the Narok County Spatial Plan currently under development. The Spatial Plan is a 10-year land-use plan that is legally binding and can prove to be a critical tool towards fighting fragmentation in the landscape. The researcher’s workshop was followed by a stakeholder engagement meeting which was attended by 30 participants from 20 organizations. The aim of the stakeholder engagement meeting was to gather views on the best interventions for the conservation of the GME as relates to land-use planning as well as to build awareness of the Hub and its activities in the ecosystem. In March 2020, a follow-up data collation and harmonization GIS workshop was held. Over 700datasets were compiled from KWS, Aarhus University, WWF-Kenya, Mara Predator Conservation Program, Kenya Wildlife Trust, Smithsonian Institute, and Narok County Government. A report based on the process was submitted to the County Government for consideration on the zonation of the County. The zonation proposed categorization of the different zones based on their ecological significance.

Feasibility Study of the Greater Mara Ecosystem

The One Mara Research Hub received a grant from NORAD through Basecamp Explorer Foundation to carry out a Feasibility Study of the Greater Mara Ecosystem. The study focuses on livelihood improvement and incorporates ecology data with the aim of providing an actionable report on future ecosystem management initiatives. As part of the study, the Hub carried out a social survey of almost 400 households in the ecosystem in July 2020. The questionnaire had 588questions and focused on wildlife and livestock population dynamics; livelihood improvement; and the impact of COVID 19 on the local community. The final report on this study will be available end of November. The key findings of this study were communicated in a high-level stakeholder engagement meeting with County Officials. Members of the County Assembly Tourism and Environment Committee were also present at the meeting.

Our current work

The OMRH is currently developing an online portal that will host the meta-databases of research findings from the ecosystem. The portal will be up and running soon.

The OMRH identified the following issues as key research priority areas for the ecosystem:

  • Fencing
  • Wildlife/land use monitoring
  • Policy impacts of research
  • Social and economic impacts of conservancies/community views of conservation

There are two working groups currently that have been formed and an additional four groups have been proposed. The working groups focus on synthesizing data on specific priority areas and assist in developing communication material on the same. The current working groups that have been formed are

  • Fencing
  • Biodiversity change in the ecosystem

The Hub is involved in several special initiatives that have a direct impact on the Mara Ecosystem. The initiatives are:

  • The Narok County Spatial Plan
  • The Mara Ecosystem Plan
  • The Mara UNESCO World Heritage Site Application

The Hub’s key role in these initiatives is in providing critical data needed to advise on the policies and the strategies that will be proposed in the plans. This will be done by forming thematic working groups around all the key issues.

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