Despite advisory travel warnings against visiting parts of Kenya due to fears of the Ebola outbreak and rumours of terrorist group al-Shabab targeting Kenyans in its latest recruitment drive, visitor numbers to Kenya are rocketing.
Visitors from the UK, USA, Japan and Europe are throwing caution to the wind and booking accommodation to witness one of the few remaining natural spectacles on earth, the annual migration of wildebeests across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania to the dry-season lands and their calving grounds.
Already, about one million wildebeests have crossed the Mara River. A further one million are expected to arrive in the Park before the end of October.
The presence of wildebeests in the reserve has lead to an increase in the number of predators with lions, cheetahs, leopards and crocodiles targeting the young and elderly beasts. The lowly wildebeest plays a major role in Africa’s ecosystem food chain.
Wildebeest presence also helps feed the Kenyan people as the annual migration adds an estimated one billion euros annually to Kenya’s cash-strapped economy.
There are fears for the future of the wildebeest, as nearby Nairobi expands its urban sprawl and calls for fencing to deter the wildebeest from grazing crops and allow further housing developments have been made. Opponents claim that without the wildebeest, the economy would falter and the expansion would not be required.