Drivers & Recommendations

What drives change in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem?


Research Results

How these drivers change ecosystem services, biodiversity, and human well being?

Human-wildlife conflict

  • Crop raiding, human attacks, livestock attacks and property damage are forms of human-wildlife conflict
  • The severity of conflicts varies across time and season
  • Local people see no benefit of Wildlife Management Areas to their livelihoods
  • Lions can survive within pastoral regions if communities gain economic benefits from wildlife
  • Rhinos’ preferred forage area are limited by frequent fire

Human livelihoods

  • Survey involving 1000 homes in 24 communities close to the ecosystem
  • Poor people are highly dependent on ecosystem services
  • 50-80 % of total household income come from the ecosystem

Quality of water sources

  • 94 human water sources tested
  • 50 % had bacteria that cause diseases
  • Clean water shortage is a health

Land fragmentation

  • Most fences are close to major roads & urban centers
  • Road and fences are a major cause of fragmentation
  • Migratory wildebeest and zebra are increasingly obstructed by a higher number of fences

It will not be long before the Mara is gone

Kenya’s wildlife has decreased by nearly 70% in under 40 years due to:

  • Sheep and goats are increasing (76%)
  • Temperature increase (2°)
  • Frequent occurrence of intense droughts
  • Increased number of camels
  • Fencing and fragmentation

Livestock diseases

  • Temperatures, rainfall and extreme events (El Niño) influence disease outbreaks in various, complex ways
  • Prevalence of Rift Valley fever, foot and mouth disease, and field fever are influenced by climate change

Human and livestock populations

  • Human and livestock population growth affect the stability of the ecosystem
  • In areas with weak border control, livestock has moved further into the park
  • The range of the migratory wildebeest is being squeezed inside the park
  • Annual fluctuations in rainfall affect animal population and biodiversity (data from 1935 to 2015)

Illegal Hunting

  • Much higher in Tanzania than Kenya
  • Illegal hunters are adapting to improved patrolling to reduce the chance of being arrested
  • Illegal bush meat consumption is highest close to the park

Nutrients in Soil

  • Land use, tree canopies, and root decomposition influence nutrients in soil
  • Fire and large mammalian herbivores are direct influences on root decomposition
  • Root decomposition in savannas also depends on termites that feed selectively

Drivers & Recommendations

  • Encourage communities towards sustainable income activities (chicken farming, fish production, eco-tourism)
  • Increase education to engage people into labour force and business activities
  • Increase knowledge related to conservation and disease recognition
  • Increase involvement in tourist activities to reduce pressure on land and use of livestock
  • Make it easier for communities to benefit from wildlife and other natural resources (attitude change)
  • Reduce pressure on tall trees to stimulate plant growth and soil quality (and resilience)
  • Reduce pressure on forest products by developing cheap and alternative energy sources (cooking equipment and solar power)
  • Develop cheap water treatment equipment
  • Assist in developing sustainable land use plans

Tools we have developed

  • ‘Serengeti animal tracker’ mobile app
  • ‘Serengeti Dawn’ Board game
  • ‘Serengeti ServiceScape’ app for management strategies
  • ‘Serengeti ServiceScape’ app for management strategies
  • Data Repository
  • Searchable upload service


These are preliminary recommendations.
A synthesis of links between the drivers, ecosystem services, biodiversity and human well being is to come!


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What drives change in the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem? – Drivers & Recommendations (PDF)