Experience World’s Highest Concentration of Wildlife in Masai Mara

If you want to visit the only place in the world with the highest concentration of diverse animals and bird species per square km or per square mile, the Masai Mara National Reserve is the place for you!

Mara vs. Yellowstone – a perspective on sightings;

Having visited other world-renowned national parks such as Yellowstone, where I struggled to capture even a single clear picture of a Bison, I was only able to capture a blurry image of the backside from a distance. There were barely any animal sightings.

In stark contrast, Masai Mara offers a completely different experience. As soon as you enter through the main gate, you are greeted by a stunning array of over 5 different species of animals. You can literally witness the incredible wildlife right from the moment you arrive at the gate. This showcases the remarkable concentration of animals in the Mara, making it a truly unique and captivating destination for game viewing.

What do I mean by animal concentration?

It’s the number of different species that exist within a certain area. The Masai Mara Reserve has not only an incredible concentration of wild animals but also some of the most spectacular landscapes in Africa. From dry savannahs to lush grasslands and rolling hills, it stands out for its stunning beauty!

The reserve’s wildlife is simply phenomenal. You can spot animals like lions, leopards, elephants, hippos, zebras, and antelopes as well as a variety of birds including vultures and eagles. Masai Mara is also home to the world’s longest annual migration of wildebeest and zebra!

What’s the number of animals in Masai Mara per square kilometer? 3400

The Masai Mara National Reserve has the highest concentration of different animals and bird species per square kilometer in the world, with an estimated 5.2 million wild mammals within a 1,510 km2 (586 sq mi) area. This brings the number of animals per square kilometer to about 3,400!

To give you a perspective perhaps using square miles, the Masai Mara has over 8,800 wild animals per square mile. Per square meter, the number of animals stands at around 0.4 individuals/m2.

Another thing to note about most animals in the Mara is that they are mostly in groups/herds. In a single sighting you can see a herd of up to 15 elephants with their calves. Below is an image I took in May 2023 showing a full family of 9 elephants with calves – and notably one male.

What are the main reasons that make Masai Mara a great wildlife destination?

The Masai Mara National Reserve is truly a remarkable destination for game viewing and wildlife photography due to its abundance of different species, pristine natural beauty, and thrilling safari experiences. Here are some of the other reasons

  • Diversity of Wildlife: The incredible diversity of wildlife is one of the main reasons why Masai Mara is such a great destination. The reserve is home to over 95 species of mammals and amphibians, as well as around 500 bird species.
  • Big Five: Masai Mara Reserve also has its own Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant rhino, and buffalo. Read about Mara’s wildlife diversity here
  • Migration: One of the greatest spectacles in the world is the annual wildebeest migration. Every year, millions of animals migrate from Serengeti National Park to Masai Mara and back again, providing a unique wildlife experience that you will never forget.
  • Scenic Beauty: The reserve also offers stunning scenic beauty, with rolling hills and lush grasslands as far as the eye can see. There are also many rivers and lakes that dot the landscape, providing a picturesque setting for any safari tour.
  • Safaris: Finally, there are excellent safari tours available in Masai Mara that you can enjoy. From game drives to hot air ballooning and cultural tours, there is something for everyone in Masai Mara.

Which animals have the highest concentration in Mara?

The Mara is home to a large variety of herbivores that make up the majority of the animal population, such as zebras and wildebeests. These animals migrate in huge numbers during certain times of the year, within or even outside the Mara ecosystem.

According to various sources, there are approximately 1.2 million zebras in Mara and more than 1.5 million wildebeest that make up the herding/hoofed mammal population. Other animals that have a relatively higher concentration in Mara include impalas, lions, gazelles and giraffes.

How are they able to co-exist?

You’ll mostly find hoofed mammals or grazers preferring to graze in open grass plains, while predators typically prefer wooded areas for hunting and concealment. This allows the animals to co-exist naturally as they have adapted to their respective habitats.

Are there many predators in the Mara?

The number of predators in the Mara isn’t as many as the grazers and this is particularly important to maintain the food chain. There are also other factors at play that have reduced the number of predators such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards – specifically human-wildlife conflicts. In May 2023, a local daily newspaper reported 10 lions being killed in Kajiado in a single week.

Some estimates put the number of main predators such as lions at no more than 1,000 and recent figures indicate a sharp decline in the number of cheetahs.

How about the bird population in the Mara;

The Masai Mara boasts a rich tapestry of over 500 bird species, each unique in shape, size, color, and call. Its lush forests and vast plains showcase a captivating array of plants, trees, and flowers.

It is difficult to precisely estimate the total number of bird species in the Mara, whether specific or in total. My estimation is that they probably do not exceed 1 million. Regrettably, I could only find various sources that mention more than 470 or even 500 species of birds, but none provide specifics on the exact total. The avian inhabitants of the Mara include vultures, eagles, hawks, kites, egrets, herons, storks, ibises, spoonbills, stilts, avocets, falcons, quail, francolins, and many more fascinating sub-species. This website has a nice checklist of bird species.

How many sightings can you expect when visiting Masai Mara:

Based on my experience, wildlife enthusiasts can anticipate spotting a diverse array of animals, predominantly consisting of hoofed mammals with a handful of predators. The number of sightings may fluctuate depending on the season. During the peak season, it is not uncommon to encounter magnificent herds of over 1,000 wildebeests or even 5,000 buffalos. However, spotting lions, cheetahs, and leopards can prove to be more challenging as they camouflage amidst the tall grasses. Notably, Mara North Conservancy within the Mara Reserve boasts a higher concentration of lions compared to other areas.

During my recent visit to Mara North Conservancy, I had the pleasure of staying at the Main Governor’s Camp. Over the course of three days, I was fortunate enough to encounter more than 30 majestic lions. I got a glimpse of the famous Marsh Pride.

How to get the most out of your Mara Safari Package with most animal sightings;

If you have made a booking for your Mara safari with Kambu Campers, you can inform any of our knowledgeable guides if you have a specific interest in observing certain animals. While our game drives typically ensure sightings of the big five, there might be occasions when rhinos and leopards prove more elusive. However, we make every effort to collaborate with other guides, increasing the likelihood of encountering all these magnificent creatures during a typical 2-5 day safari in the Mara. Rest assured, we strive to provide you with an exceptional wildlife experience.

Check out our Masai Mara safari packages from Nairobi here.

Where is the highest concentration of large mammals in the world?

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest concentration of large mammals currently found anywhere in the world is a herd of northern fur seals (Callorhinus ursinus). These magnificent creatures primarily breed on St. George and St. Paul, two islands located in Alaska’s Pribilof group, encompassing a combined area of 75.1 square miles (194.5 km²).

According to an entry on the Guinness World Record website, the population of fur seals reached its highest point of around 2.5 million animals in the late 1950s. However, due to extensive hunting, their numbers were drastically reduced. Currently, the population has recovered to just under 1 million individuals.

highest concentration of mammals - snip from Guiness World Records

Why Mara is a great destination, regardless

Masai Mara boasts the highest concentration of diverse wildlife, setting it apart from the Alaskan Islands with just a single mammal species – the fur seals. This makes Mara an exceptional safari destination, offering a glimpse into the magnificent world of wildlife, including the renowned Big 5. As one of Kenya’s most popular safaris, it presents the opportunity to witness nature at its finest. Adding to its allure, the Mara River gracefully courses through the area, enhancing your wildlife experience with an extra touch of beauty.

If you are considering a safari to Masai Mara, contact us here.

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