Governor Tunai halts building of camps in Mara

Wednesday December 27 2017

Maasai Mara Game Reserve

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai addresses Emorogi residents during a public meeting on November 26, 2017. He has threatened to demolish camps and lodges in Maasai Mara that will not meet international standards. PHOTO | GEORGE SAYAGIE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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Narok Governor Samuel Tunai has halted development of tourist facilities in Maasai Mara Game Reserve, citing congestion.

Governor Tunai further threatened to demolish camps and lodges that will not meet international standards, saying the current congestion is risky for the survival of the world famous resort.

“We are not going to issue licences for the construction of new facilities within and outside the 1,526km ecosystem.

"The moratorium will be in place for protected areas, wild animal gorges, and breeding areas,” Mr Tunai said while addressing rangers at the reserve.

DOMESTIC TOURISTS
The county boss said aside from the ecological concern, the reserve should offer premium game viewing to all visitors with the local communities benefiting equitably.

Mr Tunai, who is also the Council of Governors Tourism Committee chairman, said among the establishments that will be demolished are camps that had been developed without impact assessment being done, exerting pressure on the fragile ecosystem.

The first to be demolished following the governor’s order is the luxury facility – Mara Rafiki Camp – whose construction is at the centre of an ongoing legal battle.

CAMPS
Despite its construction following a court order, the governor argued that it’s on Mara River riparian area.

The facilities, he added, impact negatively on the environment and affect prudent business management of the lodges and camps.

The governor’s move comes after the reserve was voted Africa’s leading national park at the World Travel Awards 2017.

“The reserve is the world best, and its standards will not be compromised,” he added.

Apart from uncontrolled development, the governor raised the red flag on the increase in off-road driving in the reserves.

“Primarily, if the vehicles leave track and get too close to animals, they are disturbed, and if this practice is common, they are likely to move elsewhere; this interferes with the balance of the territory and on the movements of animals,” he added.