Governors’ Camp Collection supports the work of the Mara Raptor Project by assisting with their research and nest monitoring programs, to protect raptor populations within the Greater Mara ecosystem.
The Mara Raptor Project is one of the Kenya Bird of Prey Trust’s flagship conservation initiatives. It was officially established in 2019. The Mara is of global significance for raptor conservation because of the diversity (over sixty species) and density of raptor species, including four Critically Endangered and six Endangered species.
The Mara Raptor Project’s mission is to protect raptor populations in the Greater Mara Ecosystem. Efforts are focused on improving understanding of species’ populations and ecology to directly inform their conservation.
Their nest monitoring programme aims to quantify the actual numbers of raptors in the Mara. Their field researcher monitors around 220 nest sites as well as being a first responder to poisoned or injured birds. Governors’ Balloon Safaris allow the MRP team on our hot-air balloon flights in order to monitor raptor nest sites from the air which would otherwise be inaccessible to their team. This is a great opportunity for our guests to learn more about these birds at eye level!
Their tagging program is species specific and allows them to gain insights into the spatial, breeding and feeding behaviours of martial eagles and some vultures. A lot of information is lacking for these species. Tagging allows the individual birds to be tracked using satellite data. It costs between USD2500-3000 to tag a bird and the transmitters can last seven or more years as they are solar powered. There are a couple of tagged martial eagles that live close by to our camps. Our guides assist, when possible, to locate a kill made by one of the tagged birds and report the prey species to the MRP. These eagles have been known to kill quite a few of the Marsh Pride lion cubs in their time!
Banding is another method that is helpful in identifying individual birds in the field in order to keep track of their progress. Our guests can help to photograph any ringed birds and send this info to MRP. Clear photos of the band on the leg of the bird are very useful as well as the location seen.
Image credit Marco Carniel and Steve Narasha
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. Land managers are notified of nests and advised on how they can manage activities on their land to minimize disturbance. 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. It costs around USD1000 to sponsor the construction of artificial nest sites (This helps to encourage juvenile birds to select new nest sites for breeding).
GCC guests and guides can help by photographing any particularly rare birds and 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).
Rehabilitating injured or sick raptors can be a valuable conservation tool. All birds rescued by their team 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. They have leased 35 acres of land in Olderkesi Conservancy in order to rehabilitate vultures after poisoning events. A suggested amount of USD250 per month helps them to care for the vultures there.
We are proud to be able to support their important work in the following ways; We provide the MRP team with accommodation when they are conducting work around our camps. Governors’ Aviation provides seats in our aircraft for their team and are able to transport sick or injured raptors back to Nairobi if required for treatment. We help to transport essential supplies in our weekly lorry or on our flights, and our workshop team provides mechanical support for their vehicles in our workshop.
If booked in advance, a formal raptor presentation evening can be arranged with the MRP. The minimum donation for this activity is USD250. A project coordinator will be able to accompany guests on a morning or afternoon game drive to teach them more about the raptors and their ecology, finding nest sites and even stopping to conduct some field work such as photographing the inside of a nest, or finding a tagged bird using the satellite tracking GPS. A formal presentation will be included in camp for the guests. The minimum donation for this combined activity is USD500 (for a group of between 1-5 guests).