Dr Nathalie Richards - From the Mau Forest to Lake Victoria: The Journey of the Mara River in East Africa
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The Mara River starts its journey in theMau forest in Kenya, flowing through diverse waterscapes and famous savannahsinto Tanzania, where it reaches the Mara wetland system before spilling intoLake Victoria. The landscapes surrounding the Mara River are shaped by theseasonality of its flows. Its exceptional flora and fauna follow the rhythm ofwater availability, and human inhabitants have adapted to and influenced theecosystem services provided by the local environment. For millennia and moreintensively in the past centuries, different peoples have been inspired by theriver ecosystem to give meaning, and create culture and livelihoods adapted totheir environment. In the Mau forest where the Mara River starts its journey,the Ogieks have been protecting trees providing sources to the river; in thesavannahs of the current Maasai Mara and Serengeti, Maasai people have beenliving in harmony with wildlife, adopting a nomadic lifestyle; in the Wetlandsof the Mara, fishing communities regulate practice rituals linked to thelandscape of the lower Mara.
Threats to the Mara River have beenincreasing and affecting the quality and quantity of river flows. Climatechange, colonisation, land tenure changes, intensification of agricultural andfishing methods, increased human pollution, and a lack of governance are someof the main causes of the degradation of the river. Current efforts areaddressing governance, improving monitoring of flows and allocation of water,with the objective of improving the environmental, economic and socialsustainability of the Mara River Basin.
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