With land privatization and fencing of thousands of hectares of communal grazing areas, East Africa is struggling with one of the most radical cultural and environmental changes in its history, accordig to a recent study.

The 668,500-hectare Greater Mara is of crucial importance for the great migrations of large mammals and for Maasai pastoralist culture. However, the magnitude and pace of these fencing processes in this area are almost completely unknown.

The study, published by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information, provides new evidence that fencing is appropriating land in this area at an unprecedented and accelerating speed and scale.

Using mapped series of multispectral satellite imagery, researchers found that in the conservancies with the most fences, areal cover of fenced areas has increased by more than 20 per cent since 2010.

“This has resulted in a situation where fencing is rapidly increasing across the Greater Mara, threatening to lead to the collapse of the entire ecosystem in the near future. Our results suggest that fencing is currently instantiating itself as a new permanent self-reinforcing process and is about to reach a critical point after which it is likely to amplify at an even quicker pace, incompatible with the region’s role in the great wildebeest migration, wildlife generally, as well as traditional Maasai pastoralism,” the study notes.

The Greater Mara is a 668,500-hectare large area in southwestern Kenya. Masai Mara refers to a gazetted national reserve managed by the Narok County Government situated within this area. The remaining Greater Mara comprises smaller administrative areas, including wildlife conservancies, conservation areas and settlement areas.

A wildlife conservancy describes land set aside by an individual landowner, body corporate, group of owners or a community for purposes of wildlife conservation in accordance with the provisions of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act in Masai Mara.

The whole report is published here:click