Mammal Big Day – Southern Kenya – A landscape report

On October 1st, 2021, a friend of mine (Stratton Hatfield) and I commenced a mammal big day across the Mara-Loita-Nguruman landscape of Southern Kenya, covering roughly 100 Nautical Miles (1 ‘minute’ of latitute).  Our primary purpose was to showcase the immense diversity this region has to offer and to try to shed light on some of the conservation challenges this area faces.  What we didn’t necessarily anticipate would be our ability to match and beat the Mammal Big Day world record set in February 2019 in the greater Tarangire Ecosystem of Tanzania. This we did, by 2 species – but although we were utterly thrilled to have done so,  we’re confident that with some better planning in the future, we can do much better.

I’d like to stress that we were not trying to beat the world record. I hope the way I’ve written the report is evidence of our goal – to shed light on this precious extended ecosystem and the challenges it currently faces.

You can access the REPORT HERE

And here’s a video:


  • Charles Foley

    Hi Zarek,

    Well done on an amazing day. That combination of open savanna, arid country as well as what is essentially Congolese Forest with Red tailed monkeys in it, probably makes that area one of the most diverse on the planet. I suspect there are parts of Uganda – the Queen Elizabeth area for instance – which have higher diversity, but of course the trick is being able to actually clap eyes on the species.

    With regards to your Big Day count figure, I’m afraid you might have to reign in your tally a bit – at least with this count. The ABA rules which we’ve also adopted for mammals say that:

    a) A bird identified to one of a species group (i.e., scaup, small alcid, Western/Semipalmated Sandpiper, Common/Arctic Tern) may be counted as a species if no other in that group is counted.
    So one cannot count an identified species of Tadarida, and also an unidentified species of Tadarida.

    And more importantly the team should:
    b) make every reasonable effort to identify personally and to help other team members identify every species counted by the team.
    When I did our first count I had the same idea you did, and thought I’d find some bat expert in South Africa who could id all of our recorded bat vocalisations, but I ditched the idea after reading the regs.

    Fortunately for you, there is a relatively easy way to overcome this. Next time take a batologist – and maybe a ratologist – with you as part of the team. If you’re getting approximately 66 species on your first go, then I suspect you should be able to nudge your tally well into the 70’s. So I’m afraid the verdict (at risk of course of igniting a major war between Tanzania and Kenya :)) is that you guys are going to have to give it another go. Then again, I can think of worse things than doing another 24 hour count in the Mara-Magadi area.


  • Zarek Cockar

    Hi Charles,

    I’ve sent you an email response. Please let me know if you don’t receive it.


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