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Tourist impacts in Masai Mara National Reserve

Karanja, Geoffrey Gachanja (2002) Tourist impacts in Masai Mara National Reserve. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94455) (KAR id:94455)


Increased numbers of tourists in Kenyan protected areas have resulted in dozens of lodges, unplanned road and track proliferation, and pushy drivers and tourists harassing wildlife. In turn, these have created negative impacts on the wildlife and habitat resource base that supports the tourism industry. However, data on limits of use and impacts by tourism are scanty. The aim of this study, which was carried out in Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR) in Kenya, was to examine tourism impacts in the study area, in particular the nature, causes and consequences of impacts on habitats and wildlife, the role of law enforcement and knowledge and adherence to reserve regulations.

Direct observations of both tourists and animals were made and a record of various potential explanatory variables associated with tourism-wildlife conflict recorded; aerial photographs were used to map and measure vegetation degradation by tourists; questionnaires were administered and findings analysed to assess implications of current management practices on the sustainable use of MMNR.

Results suggested that the major impact is uncontrolled off-road driving that occurs in accessible areas where vehicle pressure is greatest. This has damaged or destroyed several square kilometres of grassland, although its aesthetic significance may be greater than its ecological significance. Impacts on wildlife appeared limited to short term disturbance by vehicles passing, which increased with increasing vehicle speed. Wildlife was not displaced permanently by tourism, and habituation in heavily visited areas served to limit the amount of disturbance. Drivers and visitors were generally aware of MMNR regulations, but these were broken in over 90% of lion and cheetah viewing events. The presence of Animal and Habitat Protection Unit patrol personnel limited some infringements, but not others.

It is recommended that a management plan that encompasses all the aspects of tourism impacts be prepared and implemented to diminish the detrimental effects of tourism.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94455
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH541 Ecology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 14:20 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2023 14:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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