Research and nest monitoring programs aim to protect raptor populations within the Greater Mara Ecosystem.
The Mara Raptor Project (est. 2019) is one of the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust’s flagship conservation initiatives. Their mission is to protect raptor populations in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. This is a region of global significance for raptor conservation because of the diversity (60+ species) and density of raptors, including four Critically Endangered and six Endangered species.
Efforts are focused on improving our understanding of species’ populations and ecology to directly inform their conservation. Field researchers monitor around 220 nest sites scattered across the region in an attempt to quantify the actual numbers of raptors living in the Mara. While a species specific satellite tagging program allows the project to gain insights into the spatial, breeding and feeding behaviours of martial eagles and some vultures. Leg banding helps in identifying individual birds of many different species in the field in order to keep track of their progress.
Some threatened raptors require a helping hand in today’s ever-changing and increasingly human dominated world. Securing and protecting nest locations is the most productive and least invasive way to help. At times, work is carried out to strengthen nests and protect individual trees or cliffs to increase the chance that a pair can breed successfully in a given year. The construction of artificial nest sites also helps to encourage juvenile birds to select new nest sites for breeding.
Rehabilitating injured or sick raptors can be a valuable conservation tool. The Project Coordinators are the first responders to poisoned or injured birds. All rescued birds are rehabilitated by the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust; Kenya’s leading raptor rehabilitation organisation. The vast majority of bird’s that are rescued are vultures poisoned as a result of human-wildlife conflict.
Project Coordinator Lemein Par
A white-backed vulture with a solar powered satellite tracking device
Presentation in camp
A banded martial eagle - Image credit Marco Carniel and Steve Narasha
We support their work by providing regular financial assistence towards the smooth running of their project. In turn we are grateful for the time their team gives to our guiding team; leading raptor training courses and giving presentations in camp.
For interested guests, a formal presentation evening can be arranged in advance. The minimum donation requirement is USD250. For particularly keen birders, a Project Coordinator will be able to accompany guests for a morning or afternoon game drive to teach them more about raptors and their ecology. You may even stop to conduct some field work such finding nest sites, photographing the inside of a nest, or finding a tagged bird using the satellite tracking GPS. The minimum donation for this activity is USD500 (for a group of between 1-5 guests) and a formal presentation will also be included in camp for the guests.
Interested guests can assist the project by photographing any particularly rare or critically endangered birds and send this info in to update the MRP databases. (African marsh-harriers, white-headed vultures, Egyptian vultures, Pel’s fishing owls, crowned eagles and Verreaux eagles are particularly valuable for their database). Guests can also help to share photographs of any ringed birds with the project. Clear photos of the band on the leg of the bird are very useful as well as the location seen.