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The World Heritage List In Africa Tourism Essay

1. Introduction

The following part of the report will give a general introduction to the site which has been chosen to be added to the list of World Heritage Sites, namely being The Maasai Mara National Reserve. Furthermore the country and the region will be described followed by arguments why particularly this site was chosen and further on naming all the criteria of the World Heritage Committee which the site meets. In addition a concise analysis will be carried out using the Fermata method. This method will help to record all the resources the site has to offer in order to develop a strategy on how to develop tourism within this area. At the end the outcome of this chapter’s research will be summarized in a short conclusion.

General Information on The Maasai Mara National Reserve

The Maasai Mara National Reserve is also known as ”the Mara”. Historically, Maasai Mara obtained its name from the native people of Kenya the Maasai tribe who lived along the Mara River. However, the reserve is only a portion of the Greater Mara Ecosystem, which includes a group ranches for example koiyaki, lemeki ,Ol chorro Saina Maji moto Naakara Ol derkesi and Kiminet. The reserve is topography of open savannah grassland in the midst of clusters and acacia trees along the south-eastern area of the park. The reserve covers an area of 1,510 square kilometres in the south-western Kenya. In the northern part, the reserve is mainly covered with Mara-Serengeti ecosystem this covers 25,000 square kilometres between Tanzania and Kenya and in the south It is bounded by the Serengeti Park.


The Maasai Mara reserve is located at an altitude between 4,875 and 7,052 feet above sea level giving it a humid climate with moderate temperature. Daytime temperatures run at 85°F (30°C) and night temperatures drop to around 60°F (15°C). The rain falls between March and May and shortly in November and December. Between July and October the weather is dry hence the vegetation is in abundant thus tourism get more active in July and October to see the park’s wildlife.


According to, The Maasai Mara type of tourism is ecotourism. The ecosystem holds one of the highest lion densities in world with over two million Wildebeest, Zebra and Thomsons Gazelle that migrate annually. This action is known as “Natures passion play” It occurs between the month of July and august.

Additionally the Mara reserve is also home to the largest concentration of wildlife. These include the “Big Five” (Leopards elephants lions rhinos and buffalo) zebras, antelope, gnus, Oribis, hyenas, giraffes, warthogs, gazelles, hartebeests, hippos, crocodiles to mention a few.

The Maasai culture is yet another major attraction, because of their authentic culture that’s why it is recognised as one of the best-known tribes in world for their bright colored clothes and traditional dances, souvenirs, art and collectibles that explain their unique tradition. Moreover Bird watching is yet another source of tourism. The Maasai Mara boasts over 400 different birds’ species. Therefore it attracts bird lover.

Arguments for the site

In the following, the choice of the “Maasai Mara Natural Reserve” as a potential future World Heritage Site will be justified with the help of UNESCO criteria. The Maasai Mara Reserve is most famous for its unique wildebeest migration which cannot be found anywhere else on planet earth. The occurrence of the “big five” as well as the wintering spot for many endangered species makes the reserve an important area that has to be protected in the future. Below three criteria will be mentioned which can be referred to the Maasai Mara Reserve

Criteria V: to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.

This criterion can be related to the Maasai community living in peace and harmony with the wildlife since a long time. The Maasai community used the land for many years while they kept in mind to conserve the predominant wildlife in a responsible way.

Criteria VII: To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

With its annual wildebeest migration from the Serengeti to the Maasai Mara Reserve the site fulfills the criterion of “exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance” since there is no comparable natural phenomenon worldwide. Further on, the Maasai Mara National Reserve is equipped with beautiful savanna grasslands and plenty different herbivores and bird species. Moreover, the “big 5” can be found within the reserve what is also very unique.

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Criteria X: to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Since the reserve is an important wintering spot for many different species the criterion of “significant in-situ conservation” is warranted definitely. Also the occurrence of carnivores such as the lions or the cheetahs are very important for the reserve because they are listed as threatened. Furthermore, they keep the balance of prey numbers what is crucial for the ecosystem.

Analysis using the Fermata method

In order to come up with a good strategy on how to develop tourism within the Mara region, it is of great importance to know what resources are already available at this moment. Therefore the FERMATA method has been chosen, providing four different tables, namely intrinsic and extrinsic values, modifiers and waypoints. These tables categorize everything that can be found in and around the site and can serve tourism purposes.

Intrinsic values

Describing a world heritage site means defining intrinsic and extrinsic values of the site. Intrinsic values are those which originate at the resource itself. Hence, intrinsic values are of natural character. These intrinsic values are for instance: Scale, integrity and aesthetic of the landscape as well as diversity, specialty, conspicuousness, appeal, scope and dynamics of resources.

In terms of the description of the landscape, the Massai Mara Reserve is characterized by the Mara-River which divides the Reserve into two parts. Further on, the variety in altitudinal range between 200 and 1000 meter makes the Massai Mara a diverse area for all different kinds of birds and flora. With a total scope of 1,510 square kilometers the reserve provides habitat for 1,300,000 wildebeest, 360,000 gazelles and 191,000 zebras. Additionally, many carnivores as well as more than 600 bird species can be found in and around the reserve. In terms of human intervention, the reserve is managed by the Narok County Council and the Transmara County Council who set up several rules and regulations concerning behavior within the Massai Mara Reserve. Moreover, the Massai Community lost much of their land because it became a protected area of the reserve. Furthermore, many farms developed in the northern part of the reserve due to its fertile land. Referred to tourism some 45 tented camps are distributed all over the reserve which arouses a lot of damaging actions such as high water consumption or dry-season grass fires caused by tourists. (Appendix: Table 1)

Going further, it is important to take the resources into consideration. Due to its river, the grassland and the evergreen Amazonian forests the Massai Mara Reserve offers a diverse landscape. However, the landscape itself cannot be considered as very special but the migration of the herbivores that grants the reserve a general impression of outstanding beauty. As already mentioned before, the wildebeest migration can be seen as the pull factor of the site since tourists travel around the world to see this unique natural phenomenon. Although this spectacle can be seen as the main attraction of the reserve many tourists come as well to observe the more than 600 different bird species whereof plenty are listed as endangered. Finally, the Mara River is the only dynamic resource which can be found at the reserve since the rest mainly consists of grasslands and savannah. Situated in Kenya, the climate can be defined as tropical with long rainfalls from April to June. (Appendix: Table 2)

Extrinsic values

Generally said extrinsic values can be seen as additional features in the natural site, which also make people come to visit the place apart from the fact that they want to enjoy the outstanding natural resource. These features are made by humans and according to FERMATA Inc. (2002) they can be divided up into the following categories: Social, Cultural, Historical, Recreational and Economic. For a brief description see the appendix XYZ – I

To apply this analysis of the extrinsic values to the Maasai Mara Reserve, it can be said that the reserve gives home to the Maasai people. It is estimated that around 500,000 Maasai live in that area, but due to their fear of governmental intervention into their lifestyle, miscounts often occur. The Maasai belong to those tribes that have not changed a lot in their original culture, rituals and practices regardless of the modern world’s influences they are exposed to. Additionally it should be mentioned that they are mainly in possession of the land and deal with its management, however, lately they have lost a lot of land to parks and reserves, which prohibit them from accessing important sources of water, pastureland and spots where salt can be found. (Masaai Association, 2010) From a cultural point of view the villages of the previously mentioned Maasai tribe can be seen as an attracting attribute, for example due to their houses solemnly built from natural resources or their very simple lifestyle which is perfectly adjusted to their natural environment. Regarding the historical values one will have difficulties finding any in the Maasai Mara reserve, because the Maasai tribes live a nomadic life moving within the reserve depending on the season and therefore certain monuments or special places are not part of their culture. All their requirements for ceremonies and rituals are based on what they can find in nature. (Maasai Association, 2010) Concerning recreational values one can find three different lodges and around thirty campsites to spend the night there. Moreover these lodges or camps offer a number of safaris including jeeped safaris, balloon safaris, horse riding safaris and walking safaris accompanied by a Maasai. (ORD Group, 2010) Finally the economic values of the Maasai Mara National Reserve are that it attracts a lot of tourists and as the number of inhabitants is constantly increasing, but the number of livestock is decreasing in the same time, people depend more and more on other sources for nourishment. Therefore in the northern part of the area they have started to erect extensive fields to grow e.g. soya beans, wheat or sorghum. (UNESCO, 2010)

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Modifiers, constraints, limits, qualifying factors

Modifiers: These are constraints that hinder tourism development at the Maasai Mara ReserveEcological: The damage in term of ecology is high, this is due to fact that Maasai Mara is not a national park but rather a national reserve hence it is not managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Its welfare is entrusted in the hands of Narok County Council and the Mara Conservancy who attain contract from the Trans Mara County Council. According to Dublin (1991) the lack of proper management leads to poaching, destruction of habitat by constant uncontrolled bush fires and exceptionally heavy influx of elephants hence to a decline in number of animals. Moreover over development of hotels, camps and loges outside the gate of the reserve is growing on a high rate.

A summary of the ecological constrains according to Charles Ndegwa Mundia, Yuji Murayama ( 2009) can be found in the appendix XYZ-II.

Physical: Tracks are established, balloon and helicopters in order to reach the natural and cultural heritages. Visiting the reserve is possible throughout the years. High season is from January to March this is when it is heavily overcrowded by people because it is dry and warm. Also in June and September it is overcrowded because this is the time when wild beasts migrate.

Health and Safety: Masai Mara Reserve is fairly a safe place, however, it is recommended not to get out of track. Concerning the health issues, the Maasai Mara National Reserve lies in a malaria region which foresees to take anti malaria precautions, wearing long-sleeved clothing after dark and applying insect repellent. The water is safe and there is big hospital in Nairobi 100km east of the park in case of an emergency. Feeding animals is not allowed since it might induce danger of boldness and foster aberrant behaviour which might be harmful for the visitors.

Regulatory: There are many rules and regulations mainly for conservation and visitor’s safety and faller to apply; there is a penalty in form of paying a certain amount of money. According to Matt J. Walpole (2003) In the Mara Triangle; not more than five vehicles is allowed around an animal because it disturb the harmony of animals. Secondly Human habitation is forbidden in the National Park only staffs are allowed. Thirdly driving off the road is not allowed. Also Visitors are only allowed on the roads from 06:00 to 19:00. Additionally people are urged to keep the environment clean putting trash at their accommodation not at site. Respect the culture of the local people and lastly no animal feeding by visitors because it dangerous.

Economic: the fee to reach the reserve and cultural resources is moderate since the Kenyan currency value is low, except for the accommodation and guided tours depending on if you sleeping in camp or luxurious hotel. The transit to the park as well as entering the park certain fee is obligated. Adult inhabitant costs 500 Kshs; children inhabitant costs 200 Kshs, adult non local – 30 US dollars and children non local – 10 US dollars.

Time: The reserve can be accessed from Nairobi airport, it’s about 270km that is six hours by car but it can shorter by helicopter. The more suitable time is in June and September when wildlife migration take place Moreover the high season is from January to March when it is warm and dry. In October & December are rainy seasons however it doesn’t hinder game viewing

To conclude the above constrains, it can be said that Mara reserve is facing a lot of challenges mainly regarding the ecology. But they have implemented rules to protect both the animals and the people although the rules are not 100% acted upon because the government left the reserve in the hands of private ownership. However there is evidence that the site has abundant nature and culture sites, unique species and rear landscape hence these fit in UNESCO criteria.

Waypoints: Gateways, Portals, Icons

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