On Saturday 15th September, international and Kenyan researchers, funders. community leaders and trusts met at the Tony Lapham Predator Research Hub in the Mara to exchange the latest research findings on predators and human-wildlife interactions in the Mara ecosystem and to discuss the creation of a new Greater Mara Research Co-ordination centre to address key wildlife conservation and socio-economic development issues in the Greater Mara ecosystem.
Topics covered included the population dynamics and poisoning of vultures (MMWCA), the migration and feeding habits of Marshall Eagles; the evolution of fencing and roads and their effects on migration routes of wildebeest in the Athi-Kaputiei Plains (Movement of Life Initiative, Smithsonian USA in collaboration with University of Glasgow and University California Santa Barbara), the impacts of clan hierarchy on population dynamics in spotted hyenas (Michigan State University and the Hyena Project), geographical distribution of human-wildlife conflicts (Kenya Wildlife Services), economics of different conservancy models (Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association) and development of the Kenyan Data Cube for open data access and earth observation of the Greater Mara Ecosystem (Sekenani Centre, Maasai Mara University).
The meeting participants agreed that it is a crucial time for the Greater Mara, and that actions are needed now if wildlife populations are to be conserved and sustained.
The partners agreed to co-ordinate their research efforts across the Mara and collaborate on tackling the most urgent issues such as the impacts of new roads and infrastructure on wildlife corridors and human-wildlife conflicts. The group also discussed plans for creating a new research hub on land that had recently been acquired for this purpose.