September 2009 Newsletter

“You think of water when the well is dry.” – African proverb

Mara River Expedition Leaves NYC September 15!

Expedition Team: Alison Jones, Project Director and Stills Photographer
Alison Fast, Video Photographer
Tari Wako, Expedition Guide and Driver

Destination: Mara River Basin in Kenya and Tanzania. This watershed supports 2 million wildebeest and zebra, Maasai pastoralists, and species ranging from lion to lion-ant, rhino to rhino-beetle, and buffalo to buffalo weaver.

Modes of Transportation: Airboat, wooden boat with outboard, fixed-wing Cessna, and a 4WD vehicle contributed by James Robertson of Ker and Downey Safaris.

Reason: To focus on the Mara River Basin’s vulnerability to human-induced degradation:

The Mau Forest (the Mara River’s headwaters): Much is lost to deforestation and settlement.
Plains north of the Maasai Mara: Heavy extraction of water for large-scale agribusiness
Maasai Mara - Serengeti Savannas: The wildebeest migration and other wild-life provide critical tourism revenue, but are affected by severely decreased, and polluted water flow.
Tanzanian Tributaries: Polluted by gold-mining toxins and human & livestock effluents
The Mara Swamp: Riverine trees and vegetation are being removed for charcoal making.
The Mara Estuary, Mara Bay and Lake Victoria: Lower water levels, invasive species and hypoxia threaten fish and the livelihoods of 30 million lakeshore inhabitants.

Raising Awareness: The water flow levels have never been this low. A political will is finally evolving to conserve Kenya’s forests and water resources.

What to expect: Meteorologists are now predicting relief from the last 4 seasons of drought with intense El Niño storms due to start shortly. So we’re packing mud boots with our sun cream, cameras and backgrounder papers!

How to follow us: We’ll mostly be deep in forests, savannahs and wetlands. I’ll try to blog (visit But please understand if I can’t access the global Internet from the banks of the Mara.

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