Why count again in 2002?
Since 1999, communities outside the reserve have begun to privatise the land and
families are splitting up in anticipation of land parcel allocation. We anticipate
that this has and will have strong impacts on wildlife. If all the lands outside
the reserve are privatised, we estimate that 40% of the wildlife will be lost,
or 45,000 animals, and perhaps all the elephants and most carnivores. We think
that it is critical to monitor people, livestock and wildlife in the system at
this time so that we can anticipate these changes before they occur.
We counted the Mara ecosystem again from 9-16 November 2002, but this time
nearly twice the area as 1999 (SEE MAP OF 2002 COUNT
AREA). We have improved the counting method so that we can produce draft maps
at the end of each counting day and full results within a month of the end of
the count. The method involves using a Compaq Ipaq PocketPC linked to a GPS, both
running off power from a car cigarette lighter adaptor or car battery. Both the
GPS and PocketPC are loaded with map layers of the area to be counted, allowing
the data taker to navigate directly to specific blocks and subblocks to sample
data. The count area is divided into 1km2 blocks,
which are further sub-divided into nine 333m2 sub-blocks.
All the data relating to wildlife and livestock numbers, vegetation and settlements
are entered directly into the PocketPC for each subblock as it was taken in the
The setup we used for the counts.
We counted the same area counted in 1999 (part of the reserve and most of Koyiaki
Group Ranch), and added the Trans-Mara (Mara Triangle) and parts of Ol Kinyei,
Siana and Lemek Group Ranches. We also counted half of the private ranch, Ol Chorro
Orogwa. In all, we counted 23 wild and 5 domestic animal species that are active
during the day. We also took other data on vegetation, settlement and other infrastructure,
multiple species associations, burns, tsetse flies, rubbish, vehicles, animal
carcasses, cultivated fields, fences, and water sources.
We had 22 vehicle teams, 2 aircraft and 84 people counting at the same time.
Twenty-five Maasai pastoralists were part of the counting teams. Nearly all the
counters were volunteers and all the vehicles and accommodation for the teams
were donated for the count. Twenty organizations and 15 individuals waived use
fees or donated their time, vehicles, and accommodation.
We are analysing changes since the last count, completing a report by April
2003, and distributing the report widely. We are posting the results of the analysis
on this website as soon as they are available. We are working closely with community
members and training them in all aspects of the data collection and analysis.
We are also holding community discussions with pastoral communities, contributors,
and Mara reserve management in the course of 2003.
How can you help?
Despite the incredible team effort that made this count happen, we still need
more contributions to fund publication costs and getting the word out in other
ways. We also would like to build up a fund to launch the Mara count 2004
well ahead of time. We welcome contributions of any size. If you would
like to contribute to the count, click here for further
details. We will provide a copy of the report to each substantial contributor.
We will also recognize all our contributors in all our documents and presentations.