Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Barrick Strikes Back"

“An independent scientific report released just this week supports reports that we have been receiving from communities near the North Mara Gold Mine regarding serious human health impacts and even deaths related to acid mine drainage, heavy metal and cyanide leakage from the mine into the surrounding environment, and particularly into the nearby rivers.”

Read more for Barrick's responses regarding the leakage at the North Mara Mines earlier this year...

http://silverpinyon.com/government-a-politics/regional/182-barrick-strikes-back

"Why Kenya's farmers can now predict the rains"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/appeals/indy-appeal/independent-appeal-why-kenyas-farmers-can-now-predict--the-rains-1850428.html

With an easy smile he admits that the plastic box on his desk has transformed his work from drudgery into a proper career. The "weatherman", as his village likes to call him, describes how his day used to be spent. He would take readings on air and soil temperatures, solar radiation, wind, rain and evaporation, then glance at the colonial-era barometer and write his report. This would be sent by post to headquarters in Nairobi, arriving about a week later. They would analyse his findings according to their weather models and a forecast would be posted back to him.

"By the time I got it was useless," he says with a shrug. "We weren't able to assess daily or seasonal forecasts – we would just do manual data entry." The largely pointless work would then be painstakingly filed, he adds, pointing to a cupboard covering the entire office wall.

Two years ago all of that changed when Computer Aid – one of the three charities for which The Independent is raising funds in this year's Christmas Appeal – equipped Jackson's meteorological station with refurbished PCs and gave him and his colleagues the training to use them.

Now the morning's readings are fed straight into a live system and then modelled into a forecast which is available instantly on the internet. "That means we can forecast the start of the rains, their seasonal length, the length of the dry spells. All at the touch of a button," he beams. "It's much more interesting and I feel more motivated to work."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

African Wild Dogs back in the Mara?

Here is a shout-out to Jackson at Rekero. He is reporting evidence of African Wild Dogs back in the Masai Mara Ecosystem. I believe they were specifically spotted in the North Mara Conservancy.

Great news indeed.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

November Newsletter


Inside you'll discover more about:
  • If the short rains of November had an impact on the Mara River.
  • The research currently being done in the Mau Forest by UNESCO-IHE Graduate Students.
  • What happens to the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) levels in the Mara and Talek Rivers during the evening.
  • The work of World Vision Kenya with the communities next to the Mara River.
  • The importance of a timing belt!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hailstorm in the Mau Forest


Sampling a first order stream in the Mau Forest during a hailstorm after hiking 5k to get there.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A path emerging from the Mau Forest.


Barefoot women carrying firewood on their backs after a heavy rainstorm...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another large fish kill in the Mara River...

Last week while we were in Nairobi taking the Graduate Record Exam - GRE (shameless plug - we are in need of funding to pursue further graduate studies, if you know of any options, please let us know), we were notified of a mass fish die-off in the Mara River. Apparently, many large fish from multiple species showed up dead on the bank of the river after the first large storm of the season. The die-off seemed to be localized just north of the New Mara Bridge, just upstream of Tanzania.

A dead mudfish/lungfish/catfish.

A dead elephantfish.

At the time we were notified, one of the suspicions was that it was related to fertilizer runoff that migrated into the river during the heavy rain. Many farmers upstream had just sprayed their crops and the speculation was that this fertilizer run-off "poisoned" the fish. We were a bit hesitant to pin it on any one cause without first taking some samples and seeing the situation.

In the past, there have been previous mass fish die-offs in this area. They always seem to occur immediately after the first long rains at the end of several months of drought. The water level in the river is very low and the first heavy rain storm will cause a large amount of sediment, plant debris, animal fecal matter and "garbage" from the river's catchment to go rushing into the river. The river will rise rapidly as it is all the sudden carrying all of this extra material downstream towards Tanzania. The salinity will rise, the dissolved oxygen will drop and the water will become extremely turbid.

Once we finished the GRE in Nairobi, we took off for the Mara River to do some sampling. As most of you know, we have spent the last year collecting a huge amount of information on the Benthic Macroinvertebrate community within the Mara River. We figured we could use our dataset from this last year to help determine what happened in the Mara River a few days prior. How are we going to do that? Well...since we know what bugs are supposed to be in the river during healthy flows...and by sampling for the bugs in the same manner we did this last year...we can determine which species are not present in the river. This will give us a pretty good idea as to what may have happened or what could NOT have happened. A bit of a drastic example is that if a massive chemical spill...think Exxon Valdez...swept through the river and killed all the fish, we won't find any bugs in the river...right? Because that same massive chemical spill would have also killed all the bugs as well.

We can take our dataset of the bugs of the Mara and compare that to a sample taken three days after the mass fish die-offs and correlate that to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Macroinvertebrate Field and Laboratory Methods for Evaluating the Biological Integrity of Surface Waters which lists the pollution tolerances of select macroinvertebrates. By determining which species we are missing from a healthy flowing Mara, we may be able to get an idea of what may have happened. We can then check out the Quick Inventory of Chemicals used in Farm and Mining Activities within the Mara River Basin to see what possible fertilizer type chemicals could have been swept into the river.

During our sampling three days after the fish die-off, we found some healthy macroinvertebrates such as this one...


This leads us to believe it wasn't a catastrophic type of event. In fact, we have seen this happen several times over the last 2 years. We speculate it may be related to the quick change of the environment within the river that makes it a less favorable to certain species. Four days after the mass fish die-offs, we were able to document a dramatic rise in turbidity and salinity during a similar heavy rain storm. The below chart captures the temperature (degrees Celsius) and salinity (ppt) changes in the Mara River over almost 48 hours. It also captures two large rain events. The first rain event caused a noticeable drop in temperature and the second rain event cause a dramatic rise in salinity.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to get dissolved oxygen readings because the water was so turbid and quick, our dissolved oxygen membrane was damaged. No worries, we have already fitted our spare membrane for next time. We documented the turbidity as high as 1,300 NTUs but it probably got much higher during the surges. Check out this page for a good explanation of turbidity and how it can effect fish.

The rangers working at the New Mara Bridge know that these mass fish die-offs are somewhat common. They have seen them occur every year at the beginning of the rains. We have seen them occur several times as well. One possibility is that the die-offs are tied to the rapid rise in sedimentation, salinity, turbidity, and the drop in dissolved oxygen caused by the massive amount of sediment, plant debris, animal fecal matter and "garbage" being swept into the Mara River during the first rains. Just imagine how much fecal matter 1,000,000 wildebeest deposit on the plains during the migration that then get rapidly swept into the river during the first major rains. Would you want to swim in that?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

October Newsletter

Hot off the presses, the October Newsletter is up and ready for your viewing.


Find answers to these questions and more...
  • How is the Mara River doing these days?
  • Has the El Nino hit the Mara River Basin yet?
  • Where is the Isei River?
  • What has WWF been doing in the upper catchment?
  • You really rebuilt the engine to your Land Rover in your front yard?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Four Water Samples...

You only have one guess.

Two of the samples were taken from the Mara River and two of the samples were taken from the Talek River. One of the Talek River samples was taken upstream of all of the tourist lodges and camps on the Talek River. The other Talek River sample was taken downstream of all the tourist lodges and camps on the Talek River.

Guess which one was taken downstream of the tourist lodges and camps on the Talek River within the Masai Mara National Reserve...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Clean Air = Dirty Water?


Check em out.

While you're there, check out the entire series of articles in the New York Times Toxic Waters Project. Several of the articles have good information directly applicable to our situation here in the Mara...for example..."Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells." The quote: "Dangerous pollutants in drinking water can be traced to the runoff of wastes from farm animals".

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Yes, you guessed it.

Yes, this is our engine being lowered out of our vehicle. We just spent the last few days fixing a minor problem which necessitated rebuilding our engine. Running like a champ now!

This is the beauty of doing research. Not only do you get to play in the river...you also get to learn how to be a Land Rover mechanic!

Lifewater: The Mara River Basin Project

Looking for a good cause worthy of a donation? Check out... "Lifewater: The Mara River Basin Project".

Kesser Productions has partnered with Global Water for Sustainability to create an informative video that "will focus on the needs and issues concerning water in the Mara River Basin of Kenya and Tanzania."

Now is an important time in the basin with public/stakeholder awareness at an all time high...and possibly the political will to match.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Road Work

Up near the Mau...the roads need some work.


I don't actually think that this one was a road...but the community representative that was leading us to a water source was insistent that we could drive it. We DID drive it...but I still don't think it was a road.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ripped from the Headlines...

As seen in The Daily Nation today:

Rains came too late for hundreds of wildlife

"The water level in the Mara River dropped below the minimum sustainable levels and we lost about 500 to 600 hippos,” Mr Omondi said.

Where are we today?


Mau Forest, Isei River (flows into the Amala then into the Mara).

Monday, October 12, 2009

Masai Mara Lodges - Drinking Water Quality

During our routine sampling trips throughout the Masai Mara National Reserve we are occasionally asked by some of the more progressive Masai Mara Lodges about WATER. Some of the lodges provide water to their guests through the use of wells located within their property. We encourage them to check out this webpage: United States Environmental Protection Agency - Private Drinking Water Wells. This webpage is very important because it contains a great deal of information on how the lodges can protect their guests from waterborne diseases that may inhabit private wells. To my knowledge, all of the drinking water in all of the lodges is from imported bottled water (not the best solution). With that said, the rest of the water provided (showers, food preparation, etc.) is usually from a well located within the property, abstracted from the Mara or Talek river or transported onto the property by a water tanker.

The Masai Mara is an area with a large amount of wildlife. All lodges that have wells should be testing them routinely for coliforms. This page provides many good examples of of other tests that should be done dependant upon the area that the well is located within.


Most of these tests are very inexpensive but they will provide your guests with piece of mind. If you want more information, hit us up and we would love to stop by and help out during our next sampling trip. There are several water testing facilities located within Nairobi or some tests you can do yourself such as this method. Information is key.

The preservation of the Masai Mara is of the up-most importance. All of the lodges play a very important role in raising awareness and preserving the beauty of one of the greatest spectacles of the world. Get informed.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Solomon

Solomon is famous amongst the Rangers at the New Mara Bridge in the Masai Mara National Reserve. He is the largest crocodile in that area and probably one of the largest in the Mara River.

He had disappeared from the bridge area for the last few months. We could not find him anywhere in the area. A few days ago, we found him a few bends of the river upstream. We speculate that the water level got too low for him near the bridge so he moved upstream to a deeper section of the river.


Solomon does not seem to mind people. He slept next to the river bank while we photographed him. He would look up at us every once in a while. We would watch his eyes open for a few moments and then he would go back to sleep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nine Large

The Impact of Nature Experience on Willingness to Support Conservation

Here is something I don't believe anyone say coming. Taken from a recently released study...

Our results suggest that the type and timing of nature experience may determine future conservation investment. Time spent hiking or backpacking is correlated with increased conservation contributions 11–12 years later. On the other hand, contributions are negatively correlated with past time spent on activities such as public lands visitation or fishing. Our results suggest that each hiker or backpacker translates to $200–$300 annually in future NGO contributions. We project that the recent decline in popularity of hiking and backpacking will negatively impact conservation NGO contributions from approximately 2010–2011 through at least 2018.

So this means that visitors to the Masai Mara are not likely to contribute to a conservation NGO such as the Mara Conservancy and someone that has never visited the Masai Mara is more likely to contribute?

Friday, October 9, 2009

DATA!

I just posted three recent reports on PES (Payment for Environmental Services) within the Mara River Basin. I also posted a few historical reports sponsored by WWF. There is a great deal of very good information contained within those reports about the Mara River Basin. Check them out in the "Project Reports" section just below "Mara River Flows Newsletter". Don't be shy...GET INFORMED.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Remnants

I took this picture last week.

The actions that caused it happened last year.

Monday, October 5, 2009

60 Minutes Special on the Mara River

As mentioned in our May Newsletter, a fella doing some advance work for 60 minutes met up with us in Nairobi to talk about the Mara River a few months ago. We provided him with copies of our research, contacts of influential individuals to talk with and discussed some of the issues facing the Mara River. He told us to expect contact from the 60 minutes team upon their arrival in Kenya since we are currently the only researchers working on the Mara River in the Masai Mara National Reserve.

They never contacted us. Not sure why. I'm guessing they didn't contact us since they really didn't get into the science of the problem with the river. This actually worked out well for us because at the time they were there, we were working hard on developing a new water, sanitation and hygiene project in Tanzania. Robin Reid did provide the broadcast with a sobering perspective.

The broadcast does mention the clearing of forests to create wheat fields and the broader deforestation of the Mau Forest...which are two of the issues contributing to the reduction in quality and quantity of water within the Mara River. I would ask that WE...stakeholders in that basin not completely focus our attention on those two problems. They are important...but what is more important are the problems we can address; our neighbors illegally abstracting water from the river, the tourist camp site in my village that is illegally dumping untreated waste into the river, the poor land use practices in the upper catchment by the small landholder next door, the Eucalyptus trees planted on the river bank by my neighbor and other neighborhood level issues that WE, neighbors in this basin, can address. We can all create an enabling environment for the protection of the river through our educational conservation activities within our own neighborhood. Catalyze the environment around you and let it naturally spread through the basin. A good way to do this...join your local Water Resource Users' Associations (WRUA) and take charge of the future of your water security.

The special has been broadcast and you can now view it online. Check it out when you get a chance and let us know what you think. I haven't seen it yet since our internet is too slow but I did read the transcript. Here is a brief snippet that I cued in on...

The Mara River rises in a place called the Mau Forest and it meanders about 250 miles or so down to Lake Victoria. The Maasai tell us that there is less water in the river now than at any time they can remember.

Asked what impact it would have if the Mara River went away, Reid said, "We're not absolutely sure. But in the dry season it's the only thing that flows. And so if that water went away then the wildebeest population would collapse."

"What do you mean by collapse?" Pelley asked.

"You know, I don't actually know if there would be very many left, actually. Not just the wildebeest, it would be many of the other species that require water," Reid explains.

According to Reid, hundreds of thousands of animals would be lost. "In fact, the estimates are, and you know, this is a guess, is that if the river were to dry up completely, okay, in the very first week after it dried up we'd lose about 400,000 animals that would die."

"And, you know, maybe that's an overestimate. But, even if it's in a month, that's a lot," she added.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

September Mara River Flows Newsletter Now Available

A few of the questions we address...
  • Hippos eat meat?
  • What does Dissolved Oxygen (DO) actually mean?
  • So what if the wildebeest don't die in mass numbers in the Mara River like the "usual" migration. What effect could this change have on the system?
  • You mean drawing water from a borehole might actually have an effect on the Mara River?
  • But I thought PES was actually a small candy dispenser used to dispense surgary sweets (like this)?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Indecisive Hippo

This is the track of a Hippo that got out the water, realized it was too hot and then got right back into the water.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The OTHER Migration

We all hear about the Great Wildebeest Migration but we don't hear too much about the OTHER Migration going on near the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

We were driving to Kilgoris from the Maasai Mara a few days ago and the trip took about one hour longer than it normally would because we were caught up in the large Maasai cattle migration. Many Maasai families with all their cattle and their belongings strapped to their backs were making the long trek to the Transmara District from the Narok District. The Narok District has been particularly hard hit by the drought. The Transmara District has been relatively spared. The greener pastures are in Transmara so that is where the Maasai are headed.


We passed many Maasai families herding thousands of cattle. They were very gracious to assist us in passing by moving their cattle even after they had been walking for several days.

We had the good fortune of meeting with some Transmara County Council personnel in Kilgoris after this encounter with the migrating Maasai. We asked the Adminstrator how they would accommodate all the extra livestock and they simply stated that they would..."We are all the same...so we must assist them in their time of need".

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good News

Good News Indeed.

USAID East Africa Signs Agreement with East African Community's Lake Victoria Basin Commission to Conserve Mara River Basin

A three-year agreement for an estimated three million dollars was signed on September 23 between USAID/East Africa’s Acting Regional Director, Larry Meserve, and the East African Community’s (EAC) Deputy Secretary General for Finance and Administration, Dr. Julius Rotich. Activities to be carried out under the agreement will help ensure that the Mara River Basin, already in jeopardy, is brought under sound management for a long, healthy future. With headwaters in the Mau Forest, the Mara Basin watershed extends from Kenya to northern Tanzania (encompassing Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara Game Reserve). The Mara River Basin also makes up part of the eastern rim of the larger Lake Victoria Basin area. Wildlife anchoring Kenyan and Tanzanian tourism rely on the healthy functioning of this uniquely integrated and rich ecosystem for their existence--and the survival of this ecosystem depends on the flow of the Mara River. Under the agreement, signed at EAC’s Arusha headquarters, the EAC’s Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) is responsible for facilitating and promoting sustainable cross-border Mara River Basin management. LVBC will also work to increase regional economic growth and integration and reduce poverty in the Mara River Basin. As a regional, intergovernmental organization, the EAC’s LVBC is strategically placed to harmonize policies for the conservation of this globally treasured area.

Economic Assessment of Best Management Practices in the Mara River Basin

George Atisa was a Master's student at Florida International University sponsored by USAID through GLOWS. He was here last year for a while working hard and gathering a ton of information that helped him produce this very informative thesis: ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN THE MARA RIVER BASIN: TOWARD IMPLEMENTING PAYMENT FOR WATERSHED SERVICES.

Here is the abstract:

The Mara River in East Africa is currently experiencing poor water quality and increased fluctuations in seasonal flow. This study investigated technically effective and economically viable Best Management Practices for adoption in the Mara River Basin of Kenya that can stop further water resources degradation. A survey of 155 farmers was conducted in the upper catchment of the Kenyan side of the river basin. Farmers provided their assessment of BMPs that would best suit their farm in terms of water quality improvement, economic feasibility, and technical suitability. Cost data on different practices from farmers and published literature was collected. The results indicated that erosion control structures and runoff management practices were most suitable for adoption. The study estimated the total area that would be improved to restore water quality and reduce further water resources degradation. Farmers were found to incur losses from adopting new practices and would therefore require monetary support.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mara River Flows Newsletters

We have been circulating a newsletter in house within our research community for the last few months. They have been very well received and we have been encouraged to share them within our entire network. So...here you go. All our newsletters will appear under the "Mara River Flows Newsletter" section which is directly under the "About us". We will craft them at the end of each month to provide a nice recap of all we've been up to the previous month.

Our most recent newsletter (August 2008) has an interesting story about one of our now infamous breakdowns. Here you can see a picture of us being hooked up to the back of a leaking petroleum gas tanker!


Check them out and give us some feedback.

Mara Wetlands

The Mara River Wetlands are beautiful...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Detection of American alligators in isolated, seasonal wetlands

That is the title of the paper Amanda wrote that is published in Applied Herpetology 6 (2009).

Here is the abstract:
Although the American alligator has been well-studied in coastal marshes and large reservoirs, very few studies have taken place in the isolated, seasonal wetlands that occur within the inland portion of the alligator’s range. Understanding alligator populations in these systems is important because, although they are subject to the same management strategies and regulations as their more well-studied counterparts, they may have markedly different population dynamics and densities. Additionally, understanding patterns of alligator presence in isolated, seasonal wetlands is important to understanding how alligators may affect these critical habitats as ecosystem engineers. However, survey methods designed for large, open water systems may not work in these small, vegetated wetlands, and their efficacy in this habitat has yet to be documented. We conducted eyeshine surveys for alligators along walking transects through isolated, seasonal wetlands in southwest Georgia. We used a double-observer method with a Huggins closed capture analysis to determine the detection probability of this method, to model the effects of observer and wetland type on that parameter and to estimate abundance. We found that detection probability for eyeshine surveys under the best-supported model was 57%, between 2 and 5 times higher than documented in other habitats. We then compared eyeshine surveys with systematic trapping to ascertain which components of the population were more likely to be detected by each method. Both methods were effective in detecting a range of size classes in the wetlands; however, the two methods were most effective when used in concert. Wildlife biologists studying population trends and establishing harvest quotas can use this information to design surveys in the inland portion of the alligator’s range.

Get yourself a copy of it and let her know what a wonderful job she did!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Something Ordinary...

Growing up in America, I thought water came from a tap. I had no concept as to where water really came from...and all the steps along the way that water would travel to find me.


This Green Bay Packer's fan has a pretty simple understanding as well...push the metal rod up and down and the water will come from the ground and fill my momma's aluminum pot that my little brother is holding...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

One of the major problems...

One of the major problems encountered by NGOs working anywhere in the world revolves around issues of sustainability.

The date on the sign is "March 2009" yet the pedal pump they installed is already broken and non-functional.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Imagine...

I apologize for the absence. We have not had an opportunity to post in a long time but that does not mean we have not been busy.

We have had the good fortune to assist in the development and planning of a large water, sanitation and hygiene project in Tanzania. This has enabled us to take what we know from the Mara River basin and help apply that to other basins throughout East Africa.

Expect to see some more pictures in the coming weeks from our research on that project...as well as some more from the Mara River as we get back to what we know and love.

Imagine...waiting for 8 hours everyday for the well to recharge so that you can get one bucket of dirty water for your family...



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Research in the Mara


Karibu kwa Kenya Jeff and Kiki Onsted! They are visiting from Florida International University to search for old maps of the Mara to aid in our understanding of the river. We'll be taking them along with us to the Mara this week to meet the mighty Mara herself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eating Seafood in Zanzibar.


Clams, rock lobster, octopus, squid, giant crab, jumbo prawns, calamari and king fish.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thank you, Governor's Camp.

We are overwhelmed with gratitude at the graciousness and hospitality of the managers and staff at Governor's Camp. This is one of the most beautiful and highest rated lodges in the Masai Mara and they opened their doors to us, simple researchers with an old Land Rover, in our time of need.

One of our research sites is just downstream of Governor's Camp. We have been studying that site since we arrived in Kenya last year. While driving away from that site last week, our vehicle began suffering from a damaged oil seal. Oil was trickling down from our timing belt cover. Governor's Camp was the closest place of refuge so we began driving for them so we wouldn't be stranded in the middle of the reserve. Upon our arrival, their workshop staff welcomed us and began giving aid. They were able to repair our vehicle and give us excellent advice on other mechanical issues we have been having with the vehicle.

Not only did they assist us with our vehicle, they also assisted us scientifically. They were able to provide us with 9 years of daily rainfall data for the Masai Mara. They also expressed great interest in our research so we were able to provide them with data and advice on their water supply and sanitation system.

Governor's Camp, we are extremely grateful. Thank you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Mighty Mara?


From our testing this morning, the conditions are present in the Mara at the New Mara Bridge for a similar mass fish mortality event within the next 2 weeks - like the one we experienced in March. If conditions do not improve, the tourists may get to witness this as they watch the wildebeast walk across the Mighty Mara. More on this later when we get out of the bush...

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Mara...right now.


Almost as low as our lowest recorded readings during the dry season.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Carla learns to dance


We went out for nyama choma (roasted goat) to our favorite little place in Narok. To our delight, we discovered they have now added a disco to the venue. Here's Geemi teaching Carla the Dorobo Wedding Dance. Congratulations Geemi and Carla!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Karibu kwa Kenya!


Our good friend Carla recently arrived from Georgia to spend a month with us here in Kenya. We're so excited to show her this beautiful country, to spend some time traveling together and to pick her Stream Ecologist brain about our research! Stay tuned for many adventures to come...!

So...how bad is the Talek River?

We are asked that frequently. It would be difficult to tell you exactly what is going on there so I'll show you...

We use Coliscan Easygel kits to test the number of fecal coliforms and E. coli in the water. This is a picture of a 1 milliliter sample from the Mara River just downstream of the Talek River...in the Masai Mara National Reserve. Without getting into exact numbers...you can see from the picture that there are a small number of pink, blue, and purple dots. Each dot indicates a colony.


THIS is a picture of a 1 milliliter sample from Talek River just upstream of Naibor Camp in the Masai Mara National Reserve. There are over 50 E. coli colonies growing in 1 milliliter sample of water from the river. The river smelled of raw sewage.


What does this mean? Well...the United States Environmental Protection Agency standards are...
Both of these samples were taken on July 4th, 2009. The famous Migration is in effect and the tourists have flocked to the area.

If there had been a good deal of rain, it would not have been unusual to see elevated counts. During heavy rain storms, the fecal matter from all the ungulates defecating on the plains are washed into the rivers and they show up in our samples. But...there has been no rain in the area for several weeks. We are in the midst of a drought. The water levels are some of the lowest that we have seen. So where is all this fecal contamination coming from? It is difficult to say...but with the higher numbers of tourists staying in the lodges along the Talek River and the well known fact that many of the lodges do not treat their wastes...well...I'll let the facts speak for themselves.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Migration has Begun.


Thousands of wildebeest massing near Talek gate...right now.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009