Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tigithe River News Roundup

As you may remember, a few months ago there was a toxic spill incident in the Tigithe River.  The Tigithe River flows into the Tanzanian portion of the Mara River.  Here is the latest news on that situation...

It is reported in various media that Tanzania's Water and Irrigation Minister Mark Mwandosya said that Tanzania's Tigithe River, which passes through North Mara Gold Mine property is now free of pollution following a range of mitigating measures adopted by the mine's management and that recent tests on the river indicate that the water is fit for human and livestock consumption.

Tanzania Clears North Mara Gold Mine Over River Pollution
Tanzania's Tigithie River, which passes through North Mara Gold Mine property is now free of pollution following a range of mitigating measures adopted by the mine's management, Tanzania's Water and Irrigation Minister Mark Mwandosya said Monday.

Debate on safety of Tigithe water reemerges
Water from Tigithe river is now fit for human and livestock consumption, Prof Mark Mwandosya, the Water and Irrigation minister has said while playing down criticism that the river is contaminated with toxic spills caused by operations within the North Mara gold mine.

Pictures of the incident.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Mara River Basin

So what does the Mara River Basin look like?

We have been taking land cover photographs for over 2 years.  Here is the map with the photographs.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Flickr Photostream

We have been posting some of our project pictures on the USAID Biodiversity & Forestry photostream.  Check them out when you get a chance.


Humble Beginnings

A picture on the wall of the WWF Musoma office...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Road Kill in the Serengeti?

Imagine. You are lying in the grass in the east African savannah, watching wildebeest fording a shallow river. You can hear the funny grunting noises they make, and as they pass by, you can feel the impact of their hooves on the ground and smell their rich animal smell. You see their kicking heels, their beautiful sleek bodies. Then you look up, and you realize that the herd stretches as far as you can see, that the plain is dark with wildebeest. If you were to wait for them all to pass, you would be there for days.

The sight is magnificent, primal and profoundly moving. It is the wildebeest migration.

Every year, more than a million wildebeest, along with hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, move through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem of Tanzania and Kenya, following the rains. In the course of a year, an individual wildebeest may cover as much as 2,100 kilometers. (That’s more than 1,300 miles — which is further than the distance between New York and New Orleans.) It is the last great migration on Earth.

But for how much longer? A large part of the migration takes place within the vast Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, and there are reports that the Tanzanian government is preparing to build a major road through the northern part of the park: through a designated wilderness area, through the migration route....


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Upper Catchment of the Mara River

A Lesson in the Bush

Meeting with the Mugango Community Group (part of the Mara River Water User's Association) on riparian land they have conserved with the assistance of WWF.  

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

Statistical Wizard

While we were in Delft, we had the good fortune of getting to spend some more time with Veronica Minaya, the Master's student at UNESCO-IHE who recently completed her thesis...Land use influence on the benthic macroinvertebrate communities of streams in Nyangores and Amala tributaries of Mara River, Kenya (April, 2010).

Check out her thesis when you get a chance.  The statistics are quite impressive...and above me.  We have never seen anybody work harder in the field than Veronica and her classmate Fred Omengo.  They spent several weeks climbing through the Mau Forest in the rain, covered in mud, sampling in a hail storm, sleeping in a primary school, chased by forest elephants, etc...  

Amanda and Veronica

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Swimming Giraffes of the Mara River?

Probably not...but check out this article anyway for some interesting insight into the possibilities.

Testing the flotation dynamics and swimming abilities of giraffes by way of computational analysis

A few years ago, the excellent BBC series Big Cat Diary featured a scene where a group of giraffes tried to cross the Mara while it was in flood. The giraffes got about half-way across before turning back [two of them are at the turning-back phase in the adjacent still, © BBC], and at one stage were in water that submerged them right up to the bases of their necks. I thought at the time that these giraffes must have been swimming: I was so confident that I even mentioned this on the Dinosaur Mailing List back in 2000 (I now think it more likely that those Kenyan giraffes still had their feet on the riverbed: you can see this for yourself, as the footage is online here*). Several writers and researchers who have googled 'swimming giraffes' during the course of research have discovered my comment, and I've since seen it paraphrased in a few places (such as here at Telegraph.co.uk and on Focus magazine's Q&A page).


What have we been doing all week in Delft, The Netherlands?  Other than hanging out with the McClains and attending the Mara Flows Inception Workshop, we have been painstakingly processing over 250 water samples from the Mara River Basin taken over the last two years.  Special thanks goes out to Fred and Ferdi for helping us out with all the analysis.  Ferdi has given us a great deal of time over the last two weeks to teach us the methods used by the UNESCO-IHE lab.

Here is Ferdi and Amanda preparing 20 of our samples to analyze them for ammonia....one of the many items we are looking for in our samples.

Even with two straight weeks of 10 hour days in the lab, we still will not be able to get everything analyzed.  Thankfully, a Mara Flows student is going to help out.  Frank has been helping us this week with the preparation of our samples and he is going to volunteer some of his time over the next few weeks to assist with some of the other analysis.  Thanks Frank!