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Mara River is under threat, warn experts

Wednesday September 21 2016

Elephants crossing the Mara River at Oloololo area in Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Conservationists have sounded the alarm over increased environmental threats facing the Mara River basin. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE

Elephants crossing the Mara River at Oloololo area in Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Conservationists have sounded the alarm over increased environmental threats facing the Mara River basin. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE 

GEORGE SAYAGIE
By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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Conservationists have sounded the alarm over increased environmental threats facing the Mara River basin.

They have warned that the river will soon disappear if nothing is done fast.

The Lake Victoria Basin Commission, a regional body of the East African Community, has warned, the river is more polluted than it has ever been, citing increased harmful human activities.

The Mara basin is a trans-boundary resource shared by Kenya and Tanzania. It covers an area of 13,500 square kilometres, with 65 per cent of it being located in Kenya.

Mara River covers three counties namely Bomet, Narok, Kericho and Nakuru. The three counties are part of the Mau Ecosystem, a critical catchment of the Mara River basin.

A recent research by scientists under the commission, mandated to coordinate sustainable development and use of shared resources within the basin, predicted disappearance of the river in the future if nothing is done to conserve it.

According to the commission’s executive director Ally Matano, the river’s catchment is degraded.

“The Mara River is unfortunately choking with silt and chemicals from farmlands. It is over abstracted beyond its capacity threatening its existence day by day,” said Dr Matano.

SALVAGE SITUATION

However, all is not lost as Kenya and Tanzania still have a chance to salvage the situation by stepping up their conservation efforts for the river basin and its catchment areas, he said.

During this year’s Mara Day celebrations in Bomet County last Thursday, Water Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the national government will soon implement an accord with Tanzania on the Mara River’s conservation.

He cited a framework on urban waste and water management and curbing pollution which was still being developed as part of the intervention.

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto and his Narok counterpart, Mr Samuel Tunai, who attended the event, said there had been greater commitment from the two counties, which stand to benefit directly from the river.

Mr Ruto urged those living in the ecosystem to stop activities such as charcoal burning, illegal logging and uncontrolled farming along the river banks.

“The Mara River ecosystem is the lifeline of people in this region. There is an urgent need for communities living along the basin to embrace the conservation efforts,” he said.