This post was shared in the name of fun for April Fools Day and is in no way meant to be taken seriously.
Traffic lights will be introduced in the Maasai Mara in an effort to control tourist vehicles during the wildlife migration. Labelled as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, every year hundreds of thousands of animals make their way through the national reserve attracting hoards of tourists.
14 sites on the approaches to key crossing points along the Mara and Talek rivers have been pinpointed for this extraordinary measure which will give the wildlife reserve more traffic lights than the Kenyan city of Malindi. The plan is widely supported by wildlife authorities and conservationists who are concerned with the ever increasing tourist traffic often referred to as ‘the other migration’.
“It’s not uncommon for vehicles to hamper wildlife during crossings. A gnu is a cautious creature. It’s hard enough to commit to a precarious drop into deep river water, never mind the chance of being eaten by a croc,” explains the reserve’s chief warden, Hugh Wilson. “Time and again, the herd will approach the river, decide against it, then retreat and regroup. Often they’ll move on to find a more favourable crossing. But If they’ve got a phalanx of tourist vehicles blocking their way they’re going to commit to a crossing they’d normally avoid. May as well open a fast food restaurant for crocs. It’s the gnu’s Normandy.”
According to the traffic department, the lights will limit the number of vehicles at river crossings. A set of traffic lights will be installed on the approach tracks a few kilometres before the river, and another set on the river bank. They will all operate on a cycle of 45 minutes on red and 2 minutes on green. “Once you reach the river you’ve got ample time to enjoy the spectacle, but when the light goes green you’ve got to move on quickly to make way for the next lot,” says Fundi Chelanga of the Narok traffic department. “This is less exciting for tourists stuck at the lights on the approach, but with any luck there’ll be some lions to watch.”
Not only will this constitute the world’s first traffic lights in a wildlife reserve, it will also be the world’s longest wait for a green light. The plan found less favour with tourists stuck at a trial of the system on the approach to the renowned ‘Paradise Crossing’ on the Mara River. “I didn’t sit for three hours on Belt Parkway to catch a twelve hour flight with a six hour layover so I could wait for a traffic light,” said Todd Bradford of Connecticut, USA.
A British woman explained she had saved for 12 years to afford the trip and spent her pension on a high end camera system with a 600mm lens and lightning speed motor drive in the hope of capturing the moment a gnu was snagged in the jaws of a vicious crocodile. “I came for action,” said Maud Allsop of Cleethorpes, “But all I got was forty five minutes of gnus going back and forth because they can’t make up their bloody mind. Not one crossing. Not one death. I want my money back.”
The cost for the traffic lights will be covered by an additional levy on park fees for foreign visitors.