Keep off Mara politics, Tunai warns politicians as wildebeest exodus starts

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai addressing residents at Maar Ward in Narok West on June 23,2022.

Photo credit: Robert Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

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The wildebeest migration spectacle has kicked off in the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve, with several tourists expected to start trickling in.

The event this year coincides with the political season, as Kenyans prepare for the August 9 General Election, but Maasai leaders have urged politicians not to use the tourist spectacle for political mileage.

Narok Governor Samuel Tunai asked politicians not to engage in politics relating to the wildlife sanctuary so as to allow the community and the county to reap from the anticipated tourism boom.

The wildebeest migration usually starts between June and July and draws tourists from across the globe. More than three million gnus are expected to cross from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara by crossing the Mara River.

Speaking in Mara ward at a campaign event for a local aspirant, Mr Tunai asked local tour guides/drivers, bead-making women and hotel/camp owners to get ready to receive tourists who will visit to witness the spectacular event.

Mr Tunai, who is also the Tourism Committee chair at the Council of Governors, assured tourists of security, saying peace will prevail in the county despite high political temperatures.

Former Labour CAS Mr Patrick Ntutu who is also UDA Governor aspirant addressing residents of Mara Ward in Narok West constituency on June 23,2022.

Photo credit: Robert Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

"Narok is peaceful and will remain peaceful even after the elections. I want to ask politicians to campaign peacefully and to keep politics away from tourism in the Maasai Mara," he cautioned.

The wildebeests have started streaming in across the Sand River headed for the River Mara, signalling an impending mega migration.

The first herds had started arriving, said Chief Park Warden James Sindiyio by phone.

"We have spotted a few herds crossing the Sand River headed to the Mara River. We are expecting the migration to happen anytime as from next week all through to next month," Mr Sindiyio said.

Mr Tunai has also asked local Maasai women to prepare to sell their creations to tourists at the Maasai Mara gates and inside hotels and camps.

He said the county and national governments have adopted strict Covid-19 regulations following a spike in cases.

Other local leaders present at the event included former Labour CAS and UDA governor candidate Patrick Ntutu and Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo. They pledged that Kenya Kwanza would be at the forefront to champion peaceful campaigns so as to safeguard the county's tourism sector.

"We continue to dismiss the notion by NCIC that Narok was a political 'red zone' prone to electoral violence. We are area leaders and we guarantee that peace and tranquillity will prevail before, during and after the polls," Mr Ntutu pledged.

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