Kenya is well known for its wildlife and its abundant forests that are home to the world famous Big Five. This country has for many years relied on tourism which until the post election violence was one of the top foreign exchange earners for the country.
But this may just be history if the government does not rush and save the Mau forest which is at the heart of tourism in Kenya. The Mau Complex plays host to the Seventh Wonder of the World – the Wildebeest Migration.
More than 1.5 million wildebeests and 500,000 Zebras begin their migration from Ngorongoro area of the southern Serengeti of Tanzania and cross over to Kenya to feed on lush green vegetation that grows around January to March. It is one of the greatest migrations that currently exist and a leading tourist attraction. But it is only a matter of time before this wonder is confined to history books because of human activities in the Maasai Mara Ecosystem.
In 2006 for the first time Maasai Mara’s Game Reserve was hit by flash floods which eroded most of the top soil and vegetation cover. According to experts the floods were caused by climate changed which in turn is blamed on human activities that destroyed forest covers. Experts acknowledged that a shift in climatic conditions could spell doom, affecting the growth of grass and vegetation and lead to an animal migration shift.
Now, both dry spells and heavy rains could impact negatively on the annual famous wildebeest, zebra and antelope migration from Serengeti to the Maasai Mara.
The destruction of forests in the Mau forest has led to shrinking of lakes in the region. Lake Nakuru has been shrinking over the years mainly due to the destruction of forests in the surrounding area and rising temperatures. The destruction has led to shrinking water levels in the Lake. The melting of glaciers on Mt Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya had led to the shrinking of some lakes in the region, mainly due to insufficient inflow of water. Experts are also worrying over human activities near Lake Natron which is the only place where flamingos breed. The 2.5 million flamingos – another attraction to both local and international tourists – are also being threatened as their main source of food which is L. Nakuru is drying up.
While climate change will affect every sector of the economy, the tourism industry will be hardest hit, especially by unusual torrential rains and long droughts.
Climate change may increase the frequency of flooding, drought and land degradation and subsequently reduce the viability of recreational activities and wildlife safaris in the country. The wildlife in the reserves and national parks are closely connected to climatic conditions.
It is time to save these or else our economy will collapse. Our forest will diminish and the future of our children is completely threatened.