Mara Wetland

The Mara Wetland is a riverine floodplain wetland located near Lake Victoria where the Mara River discharges its water into Lake Victoria.

Masai Mara River aerial

The wetland is mainly fed by the Mara River, which has its source in the Kenyan Mau escarpment.[1]

Main IssuesEdit

The Mara Wetland, like other wetlands, is an important source of natural resources and habitat to a variety of fauna and flora. A number of plant species are found, the major ones being Cyperus papyrus (Matende/Matete) and Typha domingensis (Mabilimbili). The livelihood of the communities living around the wetland depends on various services provided by the wetland. The main social economic activities of the communities around the Mara Wetland are fishing and papyrus harvesting.[2]

 
A fisherman holding Kambale/Mumi fish (Clarias sp.) which was taken from the Mara Wetland. Fishing at the Mara Wetland is normally for household food and sale

Over 80% of the population in communities adjacent to the wetland make their daily living from fishing activities. Although papyrus harvesting is among the major social economic activities of the community around the Mara Wetland only 5% of the papyrus is harvested per year. Papyrus is normally used in making of different household commodities such as mats, baskets, placards, ceiling board, vegetable containers, lamp shades, pads and arm chairs.

The threatsEdit

Mara wetland is continuously degraded despite many efforts that have been done to rescue its biodiversity. Land use change over the past years was the major problem in the Mara river basin. Therefore protection of the wetland against biodiversity loss is crucial to improve the wetland health.[3]

Between the 1950s and 2006, the seasonal water quantities in the Mara have changed significantly in the sense that there are now higher peaks and lows in the river flow. These dynamics are associated with changes in land use in the catchments area: decreasing vegetation covers are causing a faster run-off of rainwater.[4][5]

Near the river mouth in Tanzania, the rapidly fluctuating water levels in Lake Victoria of the previous century have further added to discharge difficulties of the Mara River. Consequently, floods have become more common and large parts of the Tanzanian Mara wetlands have become more permanent instead of temporary wetlands. These dynamics have caused a subsequent land cover change from dryland (that accasionally flooded) to wetland forests, to a wetland vegetation with varied water related plants as mentioned above where eventually the Cyperus papyrus has becomes one of the most dominant species. These rapid changes have had major effects on the ecology and the livelihoods depending on it. Every stage has different effects on each livelihood activity but generally stated cattle farmers have seen their pastures decreased rapidly, fishermen have first seen open water bodies increased but later decreased again, and new livelihood activities as making mats from the paparyusses have taken a major flight.[6]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "MARA DRYLAND BECOMES WETLAND A social ecological and multi scale perspective on the adaptability of the livelihood system around the Tanzania Mara wetlands",Ewald Bogers,2007 http://www.ethesis.net/dryland/MARAWETLAND.pdf
  2. ^ https://www.academia.edu/5451536/Spatial_Variation_of_Denitrification_in_Mara_Wetland_Tanzania
  3. ^ https://www.academia.edu/5451536/Spatial_Variation_of_Denitrification_in_Mara_Wetland_Tanzania
  4. ^ MARA DRYLAND BECOMES WETLAND A social ecological and multi scale perspective on the adaptability of the livelihood system around the Tanzania Mara wetlands",Ewald Bogers,2007 http://www.ethesis.net/dryland/MARAWETLAND.pdf
  5. ^ http://idl.iscram.org/files/mutie/2005/802_Mutie_etal2005.pdf
  6. ^ MARA DRYLAND BECOMES WETLAND A social ecological and multi scale perspective on the adaptability of the livelihood system around the Tanzania Mara wetlands",Ewald Bogers,2007 http://www.ethesis.net/dryland/MARAWETLAND.pdf