The End of the Mara’s Famous Five Musketeers
Mara Predator Conservation Programme
Kenya, Supported by Wildscapes since 2013
The global cheetah population is rapidly dwindling and with less than 10,000 individuals left in the wild, cheetahs are vulnerable to extinction. At present, the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is one of the two remaining strongholds for the global cheetah population. Whilst in the Serengeti there has been long-term cheetah project running in excess of 25 years, no comparable project has as yet been established in the Mara – until now.
Mara Cheetah Project (MCP now the Mara Predator Conservation Programme MPCP), founded by the Kenya Wildlife Trust and led by Dr Femke Broekhuis of Oxford University’s Wildlife Research Unit (WildCRU), will determine the current status of cheetahs in the Greater Mara ecosystem and to identify the major threats that could be causing declines in the current cheetah population. The data will initially be collected during a two-year period using an array of data collection techniques including behavioral observation, faecal analysis, historic data and interviews with herders. So far the proposed study area for this project will only include the Masai Mara National Reserve and four adjoining conservancies; Mara North Conservancy, Olare Orok Conservancy, Motorogi Conservancy and Naboisho Conservancy.
Central to the project will be the involvement of Kenyan citizens both in terms of employment and training. Research assistants will play a significant role both in conducting research and communicating the projects findings. The project also aspires to educate the communities living in the greater Mara ecosystem about the importance of wildlife such as cheetahs. The education program will include activities such as film shows, lectures and workshops at the Koyiaki Guiding School and visits to local schools.
Beginning in 2016 through the first time use of GPS collars Wildscapes Foundation supported the gathering of important scientific information and data to understand the influencing trends on the east african cheetah population. In 2021 Wildscapes Foundation was proud to facilitate a grant that allowed for the funding of the purchase, deployment and monitoring of three GPS collars. The grant also allowed for funding towards some much needed refurbishment of the Predator Hub Information Centre, which is an interactive space for MPCP staff to engage with visitors and local school children (through our wildlife clubs programme) better showcasing our research and community conservation activities.