Interview with Richard Roberts
Why is the Masai Mara such an important natural world location and why does it need protecting?
I was brought up in the Maasai Mara and have spent most of my life here. Having been lucky enough to travel many of the other amazing wildlife areas of Africa I have come to realize how incredibly special the Mara is. With year round wildlife densities in this giant open ecosystem, the Mara is hard to beat.
What has been your best natural world experience to date?
It is hard to pick one. We did a helicopter trip around the Virunga national park to visit the chimpanzees and gorillas. The astounding biodiversity of the oldest national park in Africa really did get us going. A volcano was erupting while we were there, shooting lava 1000ft into the air from ground level and we watched the lava flows slowly moving through the rain forest, trekked for gorillas and chimps, flew around the mountains of the moon and camped the night looking down into the bubbling lava lake of Mount Nyaragongo - an incredible trip.
Can we as members of the public do anything that genuinely helps preserve the natural world?
Without the great support, hard work and input of a few great people who first came to Kenya as tourists, the Mara Elephant Project may never have got off the ground. I think people can help by visiting projects on the ground when they travel. It can give a great insight into the good and bad of an area. Meeting people with real passion and dedication to the natural world can be quite inspirational.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when establishing the Mara Elephant Project and how did you overcome them?
Our greatest challenge when setting up the Mara elephant project was finding the funding. We had never run a charity or fund-raised before so we had no experience or track record to get us started. We managed after six years to finally get the fledgling project funded and up and running.