Tanzania: Mara River Species in Peril, Warns Report

A LATEST report has singled out a number of factors that could wipe out ten species organisms, whose survivals depend on Mara River that is shared by Tanzania and Kenya.

Released recently, the Mara River Biodiversity Report categorizes Hippos, Shoebills and Crab species as among the most vulnerable ones due to threats to freshwater biodiversity within the Mara river basin.

Other species whose survival are in peril include, Victoria tilapia Grey-crowned crane, Madagascar pond-heron and Killifish species.

The report prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) singled out unsustainable agriculture and poor land use practices, water pollution, unsustainable fishing and the presence of non-native species as some contributing factors that pose threat to the survival of the species.

“A number of non-native species have been introduced to the Mara river basin. These include those that are considered particularly invasive and have detrimental effects on the native flora and fauna,” read part of the report.

“Invasive non-native species threaten native species through competition, disease introduction and habitat modification and destruction.”

According to the WWF findings, the invasive species on Mara River banks include the water hyacinth, Nile tilapia and Nile perch.

The report further observes that illegal fishing practices including the use of poisons, chemicals and fishing in critical spawning habitats have been identified as significant threat in the Mara river basin in Tanzania.

“Not only are spawning sites being destroyed but these threats raise concerns over water quality and the impact on human health,” it said.

In its recommendations, the report suggests that the Mara river basin can be resilient if management efforts focus on balancing competing needs.

“To achieve that everyone must work together and a framework for equitable trans-boundary governance is an essential foundation. The moment to act is now, before we lose any more time,” it added.

The Mara river basin is home to at least 473 freshwater species including at least 4 mammals, 88 water birds, 126 freshwater-associated birds, 4 reptiles, 20 amphibians, 40 fishes, 50 invertebrate species and 141 vascular plants.

Tens of the freshwater species in the Mara river basin are threatened with extinction due to a combination of threats including habitat loss, water pollution, over-abstraction and drought, the presence of invasive non-native species and over-exploitation.

The Mara River is famous for hosting the greatest concentration of vertebrates on earth and also serves as the crossing point for 1.2 million wildebeest in the annual migration spectacle involving both, Tanzania and Kenya.

The Mara River is a trans-boundary river, shared between Kenya and Tanzania.

It is the main perennial source of water in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, and provides water to 1.1 million people and animals including during the dry season with the human population in the Mara river basin estimated to be growing at an annual rate of more than 3 per cent and around 62 per cent of people directly rely upon the Mara for domestic water needs.

It runs through the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

The latter is a World Heritage site and a Biosphere Reserve and therefore of global conservation significance, as well as being of great economic importance at local and international scales, in addition to its national importance in Kenya and Tanzania.

It spans at a length of 395 kilometres, with its source in the southwestern Mau forests of Kenya, and draining into Lake Victoria at Musoma in Tanzania.

source: https://allafrica.com/stories/202011030767.html

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