3 March – World Wildlife Day celebration in the Mara

In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3 March as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. In 2018, the theme is “Big cats: predators under threat”. Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land animal, have declined in number by more than 90% and have lost more than 91% of their range since 1900 due to habitat loss and fragmentation, loss of prey base, direct persecution due to human-carnivore conflict and illegal trade. In Eastern Africa Cheetahs are known to occur in only 6% of their historical range. Today the total free-ranging population is estimated at 7100 adults and adolescents distributed across 33 populations in 19 African countries and Iran, and populations continue to decline. The species is listed on Appendix I of CITES, and in 2016, a motion was put forward for IUCN to uplist cheetahs from Vulnerable to Endangered. The cheetah was ranked 3rd of 36 wild felid species in terms of prioritization of conservation efforts. Today we celebrated the World Wildlife Day together with representatives of different organizations, including Friends of Maasai Mara, Basecamp Foundation, Narok County Government, Maasai Mara Park authorities, Mara tour facilities and wildlife conservation projects, based in the Mara. It was a great opportunity for us to spend the day with the kids from different Mara schools and share our knowledge of animals’ behavior with them. Kids were excited to watch lioness with 6 cubs, a couple of mating lions and highlight of the day – four males of the famous cheetah coalition Fast Five at a topi kill. The Day ended up with donation the “Let’s Go Wild” coloring book designed by our Project team together with The Laikipian. Talking to the kids, Dr. Elena, Founder of the Project, stressed that the future of nature and its unique creatures, including wild cats, is in the hands of young people, and urged to preserve them for posterity together with the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project