Ecologist: Cattle should be driven out of the Maasai Mara National Reserve

Wildebeest in the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Ecologist, John Liu, suggests that cattle grazing in the Mara be driven out of the reserve for them to be used in restoring degraded landscape.

A renowned ecologist has suggested that the cattle grazing in the world famous Maasai Mara National Reserve be driven out to prevent turning the ecosystem into a desert.

Instead, ecologist John Liu, said the cattle grazing in the Mara should be removed from the reserve for them to be used in restoring degraded grazing land.

“To avert a catastrophe, take the cattle off the park and use the herds for restoring the degraded landscape,” he said.

He noted that through planned grazing, the cattle could help restore degraded landscape and enable the Maasai community have adequate pasture for their livestock.

“Due to unplanned grazing, the land which the Maasai used for grazing their cattle lost its fertility resulting to poor pasture,” he said.

Mr Liu warned: “The continued cattle grazing in the Mara will eventually turn the ecosystem into a desert. In the end, both the cattle and the wildlife will have nothing to eat.”

In restoring the degraded grazing land, he proposed that the cattle graze in a particular place for half a day and then move to other places with pasture.

The place where the cattle already grazed, he added, should be left for a period of 180 days for restoration of the grazing land so that when the animals return, they will have plenty pasture.

“Eventually, when the degraded land is restored, the cattle will end up with abundant pasture outside the reserve while the wildlife in the Mara will enjoy the freedom of roaming in the wilderness,” he said.

Planned grazing, he added, could be a lasting solution to the major challenge of livestock grazing in the Mara.

“For any safari goer, the beauty of enjoying a safari is when you come across wildlife in the parks rather than cattle grazing. After all, tourists come to the Mara for game viewing and not to see cows,” he added.

Mr Liu, who is also an Ecosystem ambassador for the Commonland Foundation based in Netherlands, said restoration of degraded land could address human-wildlife conflict.

“Holistic managed grazing has been proved effective in Zimbabwe and Australia. It is time Kenyans acted to save the biodiversity in the national parks and game reserves,” he said.

Mr Liu added: “We should act to study the principles of evolution to increase biodiversity, biomass and organic matter.”

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