Is Tourism Always Beneficial? A Case Study from Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Kenya

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The Asia Environmental Daily

Is Tourism Always Beneficial?  A Case Study from Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Kenya

This paper was originally published on May 2014, in the Pacific Journal of Science and Technology, Volume 15. Number 1. Due to the continued relevancy of the issues addressed in the paper, we are honored to republish this work in The Asia Environmental Daily.

ABSTRACT

Tourism within Kenya is found to be very successful in terms of economic benefit. The natural beauty and the existence of an abundance of wildlife attract many tourists from the developed world. Tourists like to see the wildlife as much as possible and at close proximity. To display wildlife to its best advantage, tourist van operators drive their vehicles anywhere they can to show the wildlife at close quarters, particularly the big five wildlife such as the lion, cheetah, wild buffalo, rhinoceros, and wild elephant. This process has increased in most of the Kenyan National Parks and the Wildlife Reserve. The Masai Mara Reserve is one of the most used reserves in Kenya for off road driving. Masai Mara adjoins the Serengeti National Park of Tanzania, from where millions of wildlife travel to Masai Mara every year as this is their migration route. The migration is one of the biggest wildlife events on Earth and thousands of people go to see it. In this study we have analyzed the general tourist flow in Kenya with special focus on the Masai Mara Reserve. The research is mainly based on secondary data provided by experts from Kenya and field research from 1998, 2000 and 2003. The analysis reveals that there is a significant negative impact of off road driving, attributed to uncontrolled tourist vans and safari in the Masai Mara National Reserve. The damage rate is significant. Tourist roads and tracks are increasing by about 30 percent annually since 1998. To protect this most spectacular place on earth for wildlife it is vital that control measures and mechanisms be implemented to manage off-road driving.

This paper can be cited as Bhandari, Medani. 2014. “Is Tourism Always Beneficial? A Case Study from Masai Mara National Reserve, Narok, Kenya”. Pacific Journal of Science and Technology. 15(1):458-483, which can be downloaded from:

http://www.akamaiuniversity.us/PJST15_1_458.pdf

According to author, Prof. Bhandari, this paper is mainly based on his M.Sc. thesis titled “Assessing the Impact of Off Road Driving in Masai Mara National Park, Narok, Kenya (1998) Enschede, Netherlands: ITC-International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Sciences (now University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands. Google Scholar). Prof. Bhandari has also published another paper on the same issue titled Tourism raised problems in Masai Mara National Park. Narok, Kenya: Kenya, Mountain Forum. Google Scholar .

The Asia Environmental Daily hopes that, the National Parks authorities will consider the pros and cons of increasing safari and other kinds of interventions on the wildlife habitats.