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Where is the Masai Mara?
|Map of the World,
showing Africa in red.
|Map of Africa,
showing Kenya in red.
|Map of Kenya,
showing Masai Mara in red.
An area of gently rolling hills, woodland and acacia trees
which is watered by the Mara and Talek rivers
and opens onto the Serengeti plains of Tanzania.
What are the animals?
Much of the wildlife can be divided into mammals, birds and reptiles. Many of the mammals can be divided into carnivores, primates and ungulates (hooved animals). Carnivores include cheetah, genet, hyena, jackal, leopard, lion, mongoose, serval and wild dog. Primates include baboon, bushbaby and monkey. Odd-toed ungulates include rhino and zebra. Even-toed ungulates include buffalo, giraffe, hippo, warthog and antelope (bushbuck, dik-dik, duiker, eland, gazelle, hartebeest, impala, klipspringer, kudu, oribi, reedbuck, roan antelope, topi, waterbuck and wildebeest). The so-called "Big Five" are Buffalo, Elephant, Leopard, Lion and Rhinoceros. The "Big Nine" extends this to include Cheetah, Zebra, Giraffe and Hippo.
Many living organisms can be classified as plants or animals. The animal kingdom can be split loosely into those animals with backbones (vertebrates) and those without. Vertebrates can be classed as amphibians, birds, fish, mammals or reptiles. Each of these classes may be divided into orders; for example mammals include all carnivores, insectivores and rodents. The different orders are then broken into families, families into genera, genera into species.
Where are the animals?
The general location of animal communities depends on the habitat.
Vegetation varies according to the type of soil and drainage but is also
influenced by fire, rain and grazing animals (including destructive elephants).
"Grassland" is most common, especially in areas of poor drainage,
frequent fires or heavy grazing - supporting a wide range of herbivores which
all prefer different grasses and shoots. "Bushland" is particularly
vulnerable to fire and foraging elephants - the favourite place of rhino.
"Woodland" is often populated with acacia trees (with rich edible
leaves) - where you might find monkey and giraffe. The Rivers are home of
hippo and crocodile.
The Maasai are a proud semi-nomadic cattle-rearing people with a fascinating culture. They are divided into a number of sub-tribes some of which share the Mara region. They have a very special relationship with cattle which are essential to their life-style. The Maasai have survived a troubled history but are under increasing pressure to conform with modern society.
What's in a name?
The Masai Mara Game Reserve is often called simply "The Mara"
which is the Maa word meaning "Mottled" - a reference to the patchy
landscape. Both spellings "Masai" and "Maasai" are
acceptable although the latter is more usual when referring to the people. The
Masai Mara is a Game Reserve (sometimes called a National Reserve) although an
inner area is treated as a National Park. Reserves are normally managed
by local authorities and allow lodges, camp sites and the settling of some
tribespeople with their cattle. National Parks are normally managed
centrally and do not allow any human inhabitation other than for Park Rangers
and people on safari.
Where can you stay?
There are a number of Lodges (including Keekorok, Mara Serena, Mara Sopa) and Camps (including Fig Tree, Governor's, Intrepids Club, Kichwa Tembo, Mara Buffalo, Mara Cottar's, Mara River, Mara Sarova), plus other campsites (on the Talek River and near some of the Gates).
Please try to follow these guidelines
Keep noise to a
minimum to avoid disturbing the wildlife (it is very important that the
carnivores have some peace alone for their hunting, particularly if they have
young to feed). Listen and enjoy the natural sounds of the Mara itself.
be sensible and considerate
to the animals and their home.
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