Lyss

The Lolita vs The Great Migration

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Posted (edited)

The Great Migration is starting to trickle into the Mara from what our live guide from safariLive told us on the sunrise. Recently I was reading a bit about the migration and I came across the Lolita Migration which also occurs within the Mara, but is not as big as the Great.

 

I haven't heard about the Lolita migration before this year and I was wondering if maybe there were some in here that can explain what the difference between the two are? Obviously I know the Great comes from the Serengeti, but what is the Lolita about? Are they different populations of wildebeest or something like that?

 

Thank you for any information.

Edited by Lyss

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Posted (edited)

@@Lyss...

 

From the Porini Ol Kinyei page: https://www.porini.com/kenya/parks-and-reserves/ol-kinyei-conservancy/

 

This is a great location from which to observe the Great Wildebeest Migration (generally June to October), and there is another Wildebeest Migration from Kenya’s Loita Plains to the Mara which moves into Ol Kinyei Conservancy earlier, usually by January. The calving takes place there during February and March when the plains of the conservancy are teeming with wildebeest before they move through Naboisho Conservancy and into Olare Motorogi and the Mara Reserve.

 

photo source: http://maasaimarascience.org/the-maasai-mara-challenges/

post-48414-0-56089100-1496596806_thumb.png

Edited by AmyT
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And from Jake Grieves-Cook:

 

The Loita migration goes through Ol Kinyei, Naboisho and into Olare Motorogi and spill over into Mara North and into the Mara Reserve. The wildebeest calve in Feb/Mar in Ol Kinyei and then move in April / May through Naboisho and get to Olare Motorogi in June for the rutting season and then they start turning round a few weeks later. Owing to all the fencing beyond Ol Kinyei a lot of the habitat towards the Loita Plains has been lost so it is a good thing that we set up the conservancies as that is giving the Loita wildebeest some protected rangeland.
Here is a Mara map highlighting the location of the conservancies of Ol Kinyei, Naboisho and Olare Motorogi:
post-48414-0-59254800-1496597921_thumb.jpg
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That's really fascinating. Thank you for sharing all that information.

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I decided not to start the new topic but continue here. 

 

This year in November Mara plains look as if migration never left. There are thousands of wildebeests and zebras. We talked to a lot of people including Nat Geo and everybody agrees that is very unusual. The theory is that these are Loita herds that are locked in Mara now due to heavily fencing around (fencing has been there for a few years, but they say that it grew a lot during last year). Have somebody heard if it is true? What would be the impact on Mara plains? Will it be able to provide food for these herds all year round?

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@bettel the situation you describe has been going on, slightly more noticeably every year for the past 5-7 years.  What used to be open range land to the North of all the conservancies is now increasingly being fenced, fragmenting, and sometimes completely cutting off dispersal areas for the Loita wildebeest herds and lots of other wildlife.  

Now as you drive South from Ewaso Nyiro town and hit the end of the tarmac, you're struck by the near-endless fencing that lines both sides of the road for the first 20 minutes.  After that, the fencing is more patchy, but increases every time I travel that road.  The story is the same if you go down through Ngorengnore and Lemek towards Aitong & Talek.  The same is true if you go down from Bomet and Mulot towards Enonkishu.

Fencing is probably the single biggest threat to the wildlife, cattle, and Maasai culture in the Mara ecosystem right now.  It's a direct result of western education and the shedding of traditional knowledge systems and values by the younger generation of Maasai who value land ownership over community.  

As for the impact on the conservancies and the reserve, the now almost permanent presence of the Loita herds will put increased pressure on the already limited resources in the conservancies, the reserve and the few remaining unfenced areas surrounding the conservancies.  I reckon Loita wildebeest numbers have drastically decreased since 2010, but I'm not sure if anyone has done a scientific study to back that up.  

 

So what's driving the increase in fencing?  Several factors.

1. Change in Land tenure and land use.  What were once communal lands made up of group ranches, have been slowly subdivided, with individual title deeds being handed out across Narok county since the mid 2000's.  In some instances, this led to better conservation areas and a better distribution of conservation wealth.  In others it led to mass sell-off of land parcels to non-community members for a quick buck (many land owners are now regretting those decisions).  
2. Pressure from non-Maasai looking for agricultural land.  As with Kajiado county and other areas of Kenya, marginal areas are being taken over by agriculturalists who have exhausted the land available in Central and Western Kenya.  Agriculture requires more water than traditional pastoralism, and it's requirements for fencing make it incompatible with wildlife.  Couple that with pesticide use and synthetic fertilizers which degrade the soil health, and you have a rapidly changing landscape devoid of biodiversity. This all may sound rather alarmist at this stage, but if people don't stop vilifying pastoralist cultures and their cows, all we'll be left with are maize farms with failing crops from multinational corporations.

3. Western Education and an abandonment of traditional knowledge and values by young Maasai.  Maasai culture across Southern Kenya is having a bit of a crisis as it grapples with the two vastly different value systems of Western capitalism (me first!) and traditional Maasai (community and cows first).  The older generation can see what's happening and know how to fix it, but no one is asking them. Everyone is looking to foreign NGO's, government for solutions to problems those parties can't solve.  A marriage of modern scientific understanding and traditional Maasai knowledge is what is required to find modern solutions to these modern problems (I'm under no illusion that "back to basics" can work on its own).

 

What are the solutions:

I'm afraid I don't have all the solutions, but anyone interested in helping the Maasai conserve their land for wildlife and their cattle needs to talk to them first before bulldozing their way in with outsider solutions.

Maasai, like all communities who have to live with wildlife every day, need to see direct, tangible benefits from maintaining suitable habitat and healthy soil.  Maybe all the big-heavies in the conservation NGO world need to start directing funding towards payments for ecosystems services rather than band-aid projects to protect individual charismatic species from an inevitable extinction.  

Cattle, when managed correctly, can, and will, improve the quality of an equatorial grassland better than fire, or a complete lack of livestock (which only results in further degradation).  The conservancies and neighboring community lands are now slowly beginning to engage in a livestock management plan that will help achieve this, as well as providing access to market for livestock owners so they can contribute to the national economy and benefit from cattle (hopefully resulting in fewer of them turning to crop farming, which is taboo in Maasai culture).

Education, obviously is important.  Yes, all children have a right to go to school and to learn how to get by in this world.  Yes, they all need to learn mathematics, science, art, geography, history, etc.  But they ALSO need to learn how grasslands work, where to graze in the dry season, in the wet season, how to get the most out of their livestock, how to increase stock wealth while improving the grassland that supports it - as ultimately most of them will continue to live in that environment rather than moving to urban areas.  Hence the local education curriculum needs to be overhauled to include practical lessons that will replace sitting around the fire with the wazee.  Such schooling systems exist in other areas of the world, including in other parts of Kenya, and have proven very effective.  

There's a great documentary and accompanying website called "Schooling The World" that focuses on how most of the world has taken on a pretty uniform, formulaic education model that tries to break people away from their own cultures to fit into this narrow box created by a few elitist western educators in the 19th and 20th centuries.  Using examples from North and South America, Africa, and Asia, they show how cultures have developed in tandem with the land around them and the more the cultures are westernised, the more the land around them begins to deteriorate as they grow apart from it.

www.schoolingtheworld.org

 

I've run out of steam, but there's so much to say on the topic.  I realize I've diverged from purely speaking about the Loita Migration to speaking about the deterioration of a culture, but the point is that the deterioration of a culture is at the root of what's causing the loss of biodiversity and a magnificent wildlife migration.

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