Posts Tagged ‘Mara River’

NWNL “Pool of Books” 2017

December 19, 2017

NWNL has compiled a list of new and old favorite books about water issues and our case-study watersheds for your reference for gifts and for the New Year. Many of the authors and publishers are personal friends of NWNL. All of them are worth reading. The links provided below go to Amazon Smile, where a portion of all purchases go to an organization of the buyers choice. Please help support NWNL by selecting the International League of Conservation Photographers to donate to.



Rainforest by Lewis Blackwell (2014)

Replenish: The Virtuous Cycle of Water and Prosperity by Sandra Postel (2017)

Water from teNeues Publishing (2008)

North America:

The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest by Audrey Della Benedict & Joseph K. Gaydos (2015)

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland by Miriam Horn (2016)

The Last Prairie: A Sandhills Journal by Stephen R. Jones (2006)

Yellowstone Migration by Joe Riis (2017)

Sage Spirit: The American West at a Crossroads by Dave Showalter (2015)

Heartbeats in the Muck: The History, Sea Life, and Environment of New York Harbor by John Waldman (2013)

East Africa:

Serengeti Shall Not Die by Bernhard & Michael Grzimek (1973)

Turkana: Lenya’s Nomads of the Jade Sea by Nigel Pavitt (1997)

To the Heart of the Nile: Lady Florence Baker and the Exploration of Central Africa by Pat Shipman (2004)


A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka by Meera Subramanian (2015)

World Conservation Day 2017

December 5, 2017

In honor of World Conservation Day, NWNL wants to share some of it’s favorite photographs from over the years of each of our case-study watersheds.

Trout Lake in the Columbia River Basin


Aerial view of the largest tributary of the Lower Omo River
Ethiopia: aerial of Mago River, largest tributary of Lower Omo River


Canoeing on the Mississippi River


Fisherman with his canoe on the shore of Lake Tana, source of the Nile River
Ethiopia: Lake Tana, source of the blue Nile, fisherman and canoe on the shore.


Wildebeests migrating toward water in the Mara Conservancy


Raritan River at sunset


All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Just So We Can Survive, We Must Change….

November 28, 2017

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories charmed Victorian readers with tales such as how the leopard got his spots. In re-reading this childhood classic, I was struck with the idea of Kipling’s whimsy being a parable for climate change adaptation and coping techniques. So…

Adaptation in the Mara River Basin paired with Kipling’s Words

“There was sand and sandy-coloured rock and ‘sclusively tufts of sandy-yellowish grass. The Giraffe and the Zebra and the Eland and the Koodoo and the Hartebeest lived there; and they were ‘sclusively sand-yellow-brownish all over, but the Leopard, he was the ‘sclusivest sandiest-yellowest-brownest of them all.


An Ethiopian with bows and arrows (a ‘sclusively greyish-brownish-yellowish man he was then), lived on the High Veldt with the Leopard, and the two used to hunt together – the Ethiopian with his bows and arrows, and the Leopard ‘sclusively with his teeth and claws.

East Africa, Kenya, Maasai (aka Masai) Mara NR, Rekero

… The Giraffe and the Eland and the Koodoo and the Quagga and all the rest of them… learned to avoid anything that looked like a Leopard or an Ethiopian and bit by bit… they went away…. They scuttled for days and days and days till they came to a great forest, ‘sclusively full of trees and bushes and stripy,speckly, patchy-blatchy shadows, and there they hid….

Then [the Ethiopian and the leopard] met Baviaan, — the dog-headed, barking Baboon, who is Quite the Wisest Animal in All South Africa. Said Leopard to Baviaan (and it was a very hot day), Where has all the game gone?”

And Baviaan winked. He knew….


Then said Baviaan, “The aboriginal Fauna has joined the aboriginal Flora because it was high time for a change, and my advice to you Ethiopian, is to change as soon as you can.” ….

[The Ethiopian then said,] “The long and the little of it is that we don’t match our backgrounds. I’m going to take Baviaan’s advice He told me I ought to change, and as I’ve nothing to change except my skin. I’m going to change that … to a nice working blackish-brownish colour with a little purple in it, and touches of slaty-blue. It will be the very thing for hiding in hollows and behind trees….”


“Umm…, I’ll take spots, then, said the Leopard…. The Ethiopian put his five fingers close together (there was plenty of black left on his new skin still) and pressed them all over the Leopard…   “Now you are a beauty! Said the Ethiopian. “You can lie out on the bare ground and look like a heap of pebbles. You can lie out on the naked rocks and look like a piece of pudding-stone. You can lie out on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the leaves, and you can lie aright across the centre of a path and look like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!”


So they went away and lived happily ever afterward, Best Beloved. That is all.”


All photos © Alison M. Jones.

Even invasive species can be beautiful

December 19, 2014
Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is one of the world’s worst aquatic weeds. It is characterized by rapid growth rate, extensive reproductive output and broad environmental resistance. It creates dense mats of vegetation that restrict oxygen in water, causing deterioration in water quality, fish mortality and declining biodiversity. A healthy acre of the plant can weigh 200 tons! These floating masses block waterways and harbors, costing millions of dollars of damage every year.
Water hyacinth grows in lakes, estuaries, wetlands, rivers, dams, and irrigation channels on every continent except Antarctica.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 1.45.53 PM– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Lichen is part of the biodiversity of vegetation in our watersheds and serves as tool for water retention.

April 30, 2014
Kenya: Mau Forest, source of the Mara River

Kenya: Mau Forest, source of the Mara River

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

February 26, 2014
Kenya:  No Water No Life Mara River Expedition, Maasai Mara National Reserve,  African elephant ('Loxodonta africana') crossing Mara River

Kenya: No Water No Life Mara River Expedition, Maasai Mara National Reserve, African elephant (‘Loxodonta africana’) crossing Mara River

Join us in following the SIWI Water Blog that shares our NWNL Mission to raise awareness of freshwater threats and solutions. The SIWI (Stockholm International Water Initiative) Water Blog will share collaborative projects to solve water issues around the globe.

2nd Annual ‘Mara Day’ to raise awareness of degradation of Mara River basin ecosystem

September 5, 2013

On September 15th, stakeholders from Kenya, Tanzania and surrounding communities will come together to celebrate Mara Day to focus on the health of the Mara River. Informative activities and presentations aim to foster discussions on water quality, pollution, deforestation, drought and other environmental and social challenges facing the MRB and its sustainable development.

More than 1.1 million people live in the MRB and a wealth of flora and fauna depend on its resources. It’s no coincidence the event takes place during the famous wildebeest migration in which the perennial Mara River becomes the destination for the world’s largest mammal migration of almost 2 million wildebeest and zebra. For more information about Mara Day:

The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya's highlands to Tanzania's Lake Victoria shores...

The Mara River would seem to be pristine and unfettered as it runs from Kenya’s highlands to Tanzania’s Lake Victoria shores…

But its very critical source, The Mau Forest in Kenya, has been suffering devastation for years as industry – and local people needing wood – have cut down this forest.  The forest’s retention of water during the seasons of heavy rains plays a crucial role to the entire watershed.

The Mara River, fed by waters from the Mau Forest, nurtures iconic plains species that bring lucrative tourism and jobs; commercial and subsistence farmers; fisherman; and the ecosystems of its Lake Victoria terminus.

And perhaps most important, the Mara supplies drinking water to its inhabitants and their livestock, yet it can no longer be guaranteed to be clean, healthy water.

In NWNL’s expedition covering the length of the Mara River and in our interviews with many stakeholders and stewards en route, it became clear that education is the key.  Those who live in the Basin now must learn the upstream-downstream consequences of their water and forest usage, and why it is critical for tomorrow and future tomorrows to adjust their habits and practices to ensure the sustainability of livestock, flora, fauna and their own communities.

View NWNL’s video “The Mau Forest, Source of the Mara River” from the 2009 MRB expedition here.

NWNL Honored; and a Reforestation Debate

May 22, 2011

This month the International League of Conservation Photographers has recognized me as their “Photographer of the Month.”  Having been an ILCP Fellow since 2007, I appreciate this honor, especially as it helps NWNL raise awareness of freshwater issues.  The timing of this publicity also coincides with national interest on the Mississippi River Flood, problematic pollution of our water supplies from fracking, and American Rivers’ announcement this week of 2011’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers.

Back to my ongoing NWNL research, I just read an article on the balance between honoring indigenous cultures versus protecting our forests which are critical headwater sources of our rivers. The Mau Forest, Kenya’s source for the Mara River, is cited in this discussion modifications needed by REDD and other proposed solutions.  However, there is an important point that is NOT made:  If forests are not conserved, indigenous people will suffer just as much as everyone else when water reservoirs are emptied by deforestation, climate change droughts and increased severity of weather events.

NWNL interviews in 2009 with the Ogiek in the Mau Forest and with UNEP officials in Nairobi indicate that everyone must leave our headwater forests, but that sufficient compensation – especially to the indigenous communities – must and will be part of an orderly and fair evacuation of this terribly degraded water tower.  Our NWNL Mara River video interview with an Ogiek farmer was taped during a punishing 3-year drought, when he agreed everyone must leave, but they need funds with which to start over.

Also complicating the issue, many Ogiek have married outside their community making it difficult to determine who is Ogiek and who is an imposter trying to cash in.  Furthermore, the Ogiek culture these days is much less based on a sustainable lifestyle in the woods as honey-gatherers.  Today, most are farmers logging trees to plant crops.  The plan developed by the UN is to move the Ogiek just outside the forest boundaries, giving them permission to enter the forest for their traditional ceremonies and honey-gathering.  This seems to be a carefully-thought-out balance to an environmental crisis exacerbated by climate change and demanding a solution.

Do be in touch if you have any questions or insights that would further No Water No Life’s work!

Mara River Basin Expedition – Mara Conservancy

April 14, 2010

Welcome to #11 in a series of blogs written by Alison Jones before her departure to Uganda and Kenya as NWNL’s lead photographer.

grazing impalas

Recurring afternoon thunderstorms keep the grasses green for many species of grazers in the Mara Conservancy

Date: Wed–Mon, 14–19 April 2010 /Entry 11
Reporter: Alison M. Jones
Location: Mara Conservancy, Mara River Basin

Having just finished a 2-1/2 week expedition in Uganda’s White Nile River Basin, NWNL is now returning to the Mara River Basin for a follow-up to its Mara expedition in September–October 2009. That last expedition was at the end of a three-year drought that had severely reduced water flow levels, devastated wildlife and herds of Maasai cattle, and ruined both commercial and small-stakeholders’ crops. Now the Mara is experiencing its long rainy season with unusually heavy El Niño rains. The comparison between drought and flood conditions in this river basin will be valuable documentation for No Water No Life.

Note: Previous post is from the White Nile River Basin.

From the field: What a contrast to be in the Mara Triangle, the western third of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, in the rainy season after being here 6 months ago during the worst, final days of a 3-year drought. The results of that drought – and floods of the ensuing El Niño rainy season – have devastated parts of Kenya.

To the east of the Mara Triangle, Amboseli National Park lost 90% of its wildebeest, 80% of its zebra, a large percentage of Cape buffalo and 90% of local Maasai cattle. According to Harvey Croze, an elephant researcher in Amboseli, 20 elephant matriarchs died as did every elephant calf under the age of two. A compounding effect of the loss of so many antelope is that predators, such as the lions of Amboseli, have lost their food source.

To the northeast of the Mara Triangle, the Ewaso Nyiro River jumped its banks two months ago after heavy rains, sweeping away lodges and research camps in Samburu National Park. This devastation has been a blow to both tourism and elephant research. Expectations are that such extreme weather events – caused by rain or lack thereof – that dramatically affect river flows, will continue to be severe throughout Africa.

Fortunately, all wildlife in the Mara Triangle, including the world-renowned wildebeest-zebra migration, survived this past drought thanks to a perennially-flowing Mara River. The waters of the Mara River, albeit often flowing at very low levels, were always available in the Mara Triangle. As well, this southwestern corner of Kenya was the least impacted by the country’s lack of rains.

However, stakeholders and scientists realize they must work together to maintain sufficient reserves of water for the growing number of users of the Mara River – upstream in Kenya and downstream in Tanzania where it empties into Lake Victoria. This week NWNL met again with GLOWS scientists Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton. They have monitored flows of the Mara River for two years to establish the critical point when extraction by Mara River’s water users must be limited. As well, NWNL also met a half dozen PhD students here this week who will be working in the Mara River Basin on related hydrology issues under a program called Mara Flows. This continued scientific monitor of water needs and usage is essential to establishing guaranteed water availability in the future for all species – human and wildlife!

White Nile River Basin Expedition – Lake Mburo

March 28, 2010

Welcome to #4 in a series of blogs written by Alison Jones before her departure to Uganda and Kenya as NWNL’s lead photographer.

Pink-backed pelicans, Kenya

Pink-backed pelicans, Kenya

WINGS logo

Date: Sat–Mon, 27–29 March 2010 /Entry 4
Reporter: Alison M. Jones
Location: Lake Mburo National Park

We leave Entebbe now, and for the next 15 days NWNL will be investigating conservation and stewardship in the vulnerable White Nile River Basin. My focus will be on sustainable resource management that can protect the region’s ecosystems and species – including humans. Degradation and poverty in this White Nile sub-watershed foreshadow future problems elsewhere in the greater Nile River Basin and throughout Africa. This month’s devastating mudslides in Uganda’s White Nile headwaters are said to be due to uncontrolled deforestation and settlement, much like the conditions NWNL has documented in the Mara River Basin’s Mau Forest. The human impacts of these disasters range from no access to water, to water-related diseases, and conflicts over natural resource usage.

There are consequences for the watershed’s renowned wildlife as well. Lake Mburo National Park’s acacia woodland and kopjes are home to roan, eland, impala, zebra, waterbuck and 310 bird species. In the park’s five lakes, there are hippo, crocs and sitatunga. Red, black- and yellow-crowned gonolek are found in papyrus swamps. I particularly look forward to a boat trip that will provide access to 26 species of open-water birds include pink-backed and white pelicans, darter, fish eagle, long-tailed and greater cormorant, white-winged black tern, pied kingfisher, African finfoot, great white egret, and night heron.

From the field: Entebbe’s Botanical Garden is a great introduction to indigenous species of flora and bird species in the White Nile River Basin. I was as thrilled by the small, finch-like bronze mannequins as I was by a pair of great blue turacos flying over an umbrella tree. A recently painted sign at the entrance set the tone for visitors – and all of us around the world:
1. The human understanding is limited by the available knowledge.
2. Utilization of our biological resources is based on our understanding at a given time.
3. Therefore the search for more knowledge must continue so that we understand our biological resources better, thus utilize them optimally.
4. As we do search and utilize, let us conserve for the future. Who knows what? The future outlook may be different.

%d bloggers like this: