Three tour operators banned from entering Maasai Mara

Wildebeest migration
Wildebeest migration at Maasai Mara Game Reserve. [Photo: CGTN Africa]

The management of Maasai Mara Game Reserve has banned three Kenyan tour companies from accessing the reserve for flouting park regulations.

In a notice addressed to the three tour operators dated Tuesday, August 11, Maasai Mara Game Reserve Chief Administrator Christine Koshal faulted them for allowing their guests to get out of tour vehicles while the wildebeest migration was on course.

The incident happened on August 8 and August 9. The operators are Sun world Safaris, Mario tours and Twiga tours.

Koshal said that the reserve has strict rules which every operator must adhere to. 

“You violated the park rules and regulations by obstructing wildebeest crossing and also putting the visitor’s lives at risk by allowing them to alight at undesignated points in the game reserve,” read part of the notice.

“Therefore, you will not be allowed inside the park for whatever reasons since you violated the park rules and regulations,” she explained.

The Wildebeest Migration, considered to be the seventh wonder of the world starts in July though to October. An estimated two million wildebeest cross the crocodile-infested Mara River into Serengeti in Tanzania.

This spectacle attracts thousands of tourists, both international and domestic but the numbers are still low this year due to coronavirus pandemic.

Many tourists are unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions placed by the government in the effort to control the spread of coronavirus.

Besides, Kenya has only cleared a handful countries to enter its airspace following its lifting of a ban on international flights on August 1.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has also urged Kenyans to embrace local tourism during the pandemic.

Speaking at the Maasai Mara over the weekend when he toured the savannah of this iconic game reserve, Balala thanked Kenyans for hearkening to the call and visiting Kenyan parks in droves since the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in July.

“We are glad that Kenyans are flocking in large numbers to the Maasai Mara, currently most of the lodges are fully booked. The coronavirus pandemic really affected the tourism sector,” said the CS.

Early in June, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) announced that park entry fee would be slashed by 50 percent to encourage local tourism.