The Main Features of a Savanna Ecosystem


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The Main Features of a Savanna Ecosystem

For most of the year in this part of Kenya, the climate is very warm
and very dry. However for a short season of three months (April, May
and June), there is abundant rainfall and then a shorter period known
as the 'little rains' (November and December). Both of these periods
of rain follow quite soon after the overhead sun has past right over
the equator. The temperatures throughout the year are generally high,
the cooler part of the year occurs when the sun is overhead in the
opposite hemisphere. Most places in Kenyaare too far inland to be
affected by the sea, so most of the areas with this climate are upland
areas with slightly reduced temperatures due to the high altitudes.

During the dry season the prevailing winds blow from the east allowing
any moisture to be deposited before reaching western parts of the
continents. The rainy season coincides with the sun, when it is
overhead and the dry prevailing winds have reduced. Unfortunately the
length of the rainy season and the amount of rainfall are
unpredictable. While the heavy nature of the rain can do a lot of
damage.

[IMAGE]

A climate graph of Nakuru.

The vegetation of this part of Africa is called Savanna. This mainly
consists of tall grasses, bushes and scattered trees. The Savanna
soils are very good at storing water from the wet seasons, no matter
how hot it gets in the dry season. In the south, where the average
amount of rainfall is higher, there are more trees. Further north
where the dry seasons are longer and the rainfall is less, there are
more grasses than trees. Where the Savanna blends with the tropical
rainforest, there is dense woodland. Moving away from this the
vegetation gradually changes to Savaana grassland with its scattered
trees, then eventually changes again to bushes and grasses and then to
desert.

[IMAGE]

The grasslands provide grazing grounds for many animals. The trees and
bushes are a good food supply for zebra, wildebeest, elephants and

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giraffes. These animals will become the food supply for animals such
as vulture, hyena, jackal and even the baboon.

Britain ruled Kenyafrom 1895 until 1963. During this period Britain
had a big say in the economic and cultural life of the Kenyans. Almost
all Kenyans are black Africans, but there are 30 different ethnic
groups now. One of these are the Maasai, they are pastoralists. Most
Maasai live in an enkang which is a small village of about 20 houses.
The huts are built in a circle and made out of wooden poles (frame),
mud and cow dung (walls) and grass (roof). The men wear brightly
coloured blankets while the women wear long lengths of cloth. Because
of the lack of water the Maasai wash themselves with animal fats and
the women wear sweet smelling grasses for perfume. In short, the
Savaana is hot, humid and dry, but it supports a large variety of
wildlife along with many indigenous people.

[IMAGE]

Why is this ecosystem so fragile?

Many parts of the Savaana grasslands have suffered from drought and
desertification. This is

Especially found in places near to the desert margins. Now that the
human force has increased, traditional grazing grounds of the Maasai
have been reduced in size as the land is being used to grow crops.
During the rainy season most of the soil might be washed away because
there are fewer trees now and less grass to protect the soil.

[IMAGE]

A chart to illustrate the main problems of an unbalanced ecosystem.

What are the specific attractions for tourists in the NakuruNational
Park?

The main attraction to the park is the fact that you can see animals
in their natural habitat, untouched by man. In recent years tourists
have been more attracted to the park, due to improved accommodation
and facilities. Now you are provided with a bath or shower, a pool and
good food. [IMAGE]

The best available vehicles are used. Either seven or nine seater
safari vehicles with roof hatches and sliding windows, so you can view
the animals in their natural habitat. Another main attraction, which
brings many tourists to this park, is Lake Nakuru, where animals
gather each day to bath and drink. Millions of flamingos flock there
everyday, which is a spectacular site to behold.

[IMAGE]

The Maasai tribe will also do shows for the tourists and make
souvenirs for them. The Maasai are not very happy to be doing this as
it makes them feel downgraded and not as good as the tourists.

[IMAGE]

Benefits and problems for different groups of people from the creation
of the NakuruNational Park.

Not many countries in the world can offer the splendid scenery and
great quantity of wild animals. Tourism has now become Kenya biggest
source of income. Safaris are structured so that the tourists can be
taken around the park

A game park is set up so that wildlife can be protected. If Kenyais so
large, why does it need to have game parks? The main reason for this
is that if tourists were permitted in all areas, the wildlife would be
venerable and under further threat of poaching and death, just to
provide trophies. Many species of animals could become endangered.
There are wardens in the parks to ensure that visitors only go where
permitted. They are also there to make sure that tourists do not
frighten the animals and to ensure that poachers can not kill
elephants and rhino for their ivory.

[IMAGE]

The Maasai are nomadic people who travel with their cattle, their
livestock and their families. They are allowed to live in the parks,
but not allowed bring their livestock with them. This means that their
animals have to graze on the boundaries of the park. The park has also
put up fences to stop wild animals from getting in. These fences are
also preventing some animals from migrating as it blocks the route.
This has become a major problem as this confuses the animals that have
to take this route each year.

Kenya's wildlife and landscapes are very much appreciated by the
people of Kenya. This is because it brings in most of the tourism.
Money from tourism can be used to help the country by building new
houses, improving services and creating new jobs. Tourism isn't
without its problems though. Great amounts of people going on animal
safaris can seriously damage what attracted them to the country in the
first place. On top of that, it puts a lot of pressure on the people
of Kenya, as they need to retain their jobs in tourism and help the
economy of Kenya.

Safari minibuses are supposed to keep to the tracks but sometimes
drive off them. This happens for many reasons, one of which is to let
the tourists closer to the wildlife. This can disturb the animals
which in turn puts more pressure on the park rangers.

In recent years, the Maasai have had to change the way they live to
adapt to the parks. Some of these decisions are forced upon them and
others have been made through their own choices. One Maasai
interviewed said this, "We cannot live in the parks and are forced off
our own land. We are seen as a tourist attraction, people expect us to
be uneducated cattle herders. We want to keep our dignity."

However, on the other hand, a government official told us "Tourism is
good for our country and people. It can encourage the building if new
roads and better communications, and provides the money to build
schools and hospitals."

A tourist we interviewed said

"I am very concerned. The safari busses often drive too close to the
animals and disturb them. In some areas, wild animal's often move
outside the reserves. They may destroy farmer's crops."

In my opinion, the national parks are a good idea; they stop wide
scale poaching and can save endangered species. This in turn can help
the ecosystem to run smoothly.

A plan for the sustainable management of the NakuruNational Park.

[IMAGE]

The location of The Nakuru National Park.

Tourism brings in US $476 million every year. This is 20% of Kenya's
income. So the environment and natural attractions have to be
protected so tourists will keep visiting the park, which aids the
economy. To do this Kenya must formulate sustainable tourism. This is
when you use resources carefully so not to damage the environment.

This would mean that people in future years can enjoy the country as
we are able to today. To do this we can use something called
ecotourism.

Ecotourism is when the main attraction of a country is its natural
environment and the natives living there.

[IMAGE][IMAGE]

Ecotourists are people that are said to be reacting sensibly towards
the environment. The general development is normally small impact, low
density and the numbers of visitors to any one place are small. Others
think that ecotourism is a marketing ploy and the environment is not
being saved in any way at all. These people say that the area's
popularity has attracted more investors and people wanting greater
comfort. One of the suggestions made to help protect the ecosystem is
to concentrate tourism on a few small areas. This would mean that the
smaller, more fragile regions would be preserved. Another way to try
to preserve the national parks is to try something called a biosphere
reserve. This is when a park is split up into three different areas.
One is called the core, this is where most of the animals will be
kept, this will be a part of the park will be off limits to everyone.
This way there will be one part of Kenya that will be untouched by
humans. On the outside of the core will be the buffer zone, this is
where a few tourists will be allowed in but only under strict control.
On the very edge of the park will be the transition area, this is
where all tourists are allowed and the local people can graze their
cattle for some of the year. The biosphere idea was thought up by the
United Nations and will only be useful if they are set up where all
the major ecosystems are located.

[IMAGE]


You would also have to think carefully about where you would put all
the different areas of the

Reserve. If it was going to be put to use in Nakuru then I think that

a layout that would work would look something like the map above. This
way the lake is kept as the core area along with some of the shore
line. The very edge of the

Biosphere in Nakuru National Park

park will be the transition area and the bit in between that will

be the buffer area. In my plan for the management of the park only

a small team of committed people would be allowed in the core area of
the park and only with supervision from a park ranger.

The transition area will be kept

for the lodges and as a base for trips to view the animals with 4x4
transport. The part in between those two areas (buffer area), will
exist to protect the core; this won't have to be very large only about
two or three miles. This will ensure that no one goes into the core of
the park. There will be no helicopters or hot air balloons allowed in
the core as these frighten the wildlife and disturb their peace and
their natural habitat.

The primary problem is said to be numbers of animals and tourists.
Ecotourism cannot protect the ecosystem against mass tourism or one
breed of animal growing so big that it cannot be handled. A solution
to control animal numbers is culling. This is selective killing. The
game wardens will take away either the strongest or the weakest animal
and destroy it. This will help to keep the numbers of the animals down
giving the vegetation time to grow therefore feeding more animals. It
is hard to see how to provide many visitors with the experience they
want, without modifying or destroying an ecosystem.

Sustainable development should improve people's quality of life and
their standard of living.

People should achieve this with no wasting of the earth's resources.
This means that improvements shouldn't just affect people today, but
generations to come.

[IMAGE]


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