Great wildebeest migration watched in Kenya amid COVID-19

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-03 00:40:18|Editor: huaxia

NAIROBI, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan tourists thronged Maasai Mara National Reserve on Sunday to watch more than 1.5 million wildebeests that had earlier migrated from Tanzania's northern Serengeti ecosystem.

Elisha Kimtai, a tour guide said that at least 1.5 million wildebeests and 250 zebras had spread across the grassy plains of the Mara to the delight of domestic tourists.

"The grass is very fresh and full of moisture and the wildebeests are everywhere, "Kimtai said.

Wildebeests begin to migrate in troops from early July when the Serengeti ecosystem gets dry to enjoy the plenty water and pasture in the neighboring Mara, usually wet and humid during the same period.

This spectacular annual event characterized with the animals dashing over the crocodile-ridden Mara River peaks in August before it settles in October when the animals return to Serengeti.

Kimtai said the wildebeests have started to move from the eastern part of the Mara River to west.

"It has been two weeks now since the wildebeests crossed into Maasai Mara National Reserve through Sand River (a migratory route separating Mara and Serengeti) and they are enjoying the green pasture," said Kimtai.

Meanwhile, at least 200 camps and lodges in the reserve are readying themselves for the arrival of the foreign tourists following the resumption of the international flights on Saturday.

Moris Simiyu, general manager of Olonana Camp said the arrival of foreign tourists who constitute 90 percent of visitors during the wildebeest escapade would boost revenue.

"At least five percent of about 200 camps are ready (to host the tourists)," said Simiyu.

"All the camps had been closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and now they only have to open upon adhering to the strict health and safety protocols," he added.

Malaika Camp is one of the few camps that have already opened having met all the government guidelines for reopening including testing staff, setting up handwashing areas and re-arranging dining areas to the 1.5-meter distance between tables.

John Temut, the camp's managing director said the facility was fully booked this weekend.

"I have a capacity of 25 people and I was fully booked on Friday and Saturday," he said, adding that each visitor must have his or her temperature checked.

He said that all the visitors were from Nairobi.

Serif Abeid, general manager of Base Camp, said that 16 tourists had checked in on Saturday to watch the wildebeests.

He said that sanitation services had been automated to ensure that visitors do not touch either water taps or sanitizers in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

"We are also not providing communal activities like bush meals," said Abeid. Enditem