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The Maasai Mara safari has issued a new set of safari rules after overcrowding started to stress out the Kenyan wildlife.

This new set of restrictions came shortly after a camping group was banned indefinitely in July. A video surfaced of one of the tourists filming a lion cub at his car door, which is a violation of the safari rules.

There is also only supposed to be a maximum of five vehicles at one sighting at a time, a rule that is also often ignored by tourists and guides.

Much of this rule-breaking can be linked back to the tourists’ expectations of seeing the Big Five. This term means getting to see a lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, and leopard. If tourists don’t see these animals, they are much more likely to not tip and be unhappy with the tour. This expectation often pushes underpaid tour guides to break rules in order to give the tourists what they want. This can result in overcrowding and very close encounters with wildlife.

Phoebe Mottram, a South Africa-based British conservationist, said, “Guests want to see what they’re told they should see, and most guides survive off tips because their salaries aren’t good enough. So the guide chases the Big Five, gets better tips, and this creates a perpetuating cycle.”

These kinds of stressors result in the natural habits of wildlife being disturbed. Animals may start taking different paths and hunting elsewhere, which is not only bad for them, but also for the safari industry.

The solution to this problem is to manage tourists’ expectations, crackdown on rule-breakers, and encourage tour guides to be more aware of how their safaris are affecting the wildlife. 

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