The way we write our blogs, you might think we are the only people in the Mara. Sometimes, it does feel that way, but the truth is, the Maasai Mara is the premier tourist destination of Kenya. Most of the time, that's ok by us. Tourists are great to talk to and we LOVE telling them all about hyenas and seeing their surprised reactions when we dispel all the common myths. Plus, tourism is what makes such an amazing park like the Maasai Mara possible. It employs many people in the area and the money that is spent here supports people all over the country. It is also great to see so many people loving and enjoying the Mara as much as we do. Seeing the joy and wonder on someone's face as they tell us about the first time they saw a lion (even though lions are almost always super boring) is great; it gives us the opportunity to remember how amazing this place is and how lucky we are to live here long enough to risk taking it for granted.
Sadly, tourists aren't always the greatest. There are times when they break the rules, disturb the animals, and ruin the Mara experience for others. With my recordings, I am hyper aware of how loud some people can be and how detrimental that can be for animals that rely on their hearing to communicate.
We had one especially bad evening at Roosevelt's Natal Den. There were a ton of hyenas hanging out and interacting at the den and we had almost eight tour vehicles drive right up, just a couple meters from the den. Of course, this scared all the cubs into their holes and all the moms took off to hide in the nearby bushes. If the tourists had hung back a little bit, given the hyenas some space, and stayed quiet, they would have seen some amazing behavior and would have gotten a ton of pictures of adorable tiny hyena cubs.
Here is how bad it sounded that evening:
If you plan to visit the Mara, please ask your drivers to respect the animals and give them the distance they deserve. Keep your voices down, sit back and observe. You never know what amazing behaviors you will be able to witness.