The Maasai Mara is a major research centre for the spotted hyena. With two field offices in the Mara, the Michgan State University based Kay E. Holekamp Lab studies the behavior and physiology of this predator, as well as doing comparison studies between large predators in the Mara Triangle and their counterparts in the eastern part of the Mara.
Since 2008, Amanda Subalusky and Chris Dutton have been working in the Mara River Basin to help develop a trans-boundary river basin management plan between Kenya and Tanzania. In 2010, they had completed a flow assessment for the river to identify the river flows that are required to sustain the ecosytem and the basic needs of 1 million people who depend on its water.
The Mara Predator Project also operates in the Masai Mara, cataloging and monitoring lion populations throughout the region. Concentrating on the northern conservancies where communities coexist with wildlife, the project aims to identify population trends and responses to changes in land management, human settlements, livestock movements and tourism. Sara Blackburn, the project manager, works in partnership with a number of lodges in the region by training guides to identify lions and report sightings. Guests are also encouraged to participate in the project by photographing lions seen on game drives. An online data base of individual Lions is openly accessible, and features information on project participants and focus areas.
Since October 2012, the Mara-Meru Cheetah Project (http://marameru.org/en/) is working in the Mara monitoring cheetah population, estimating population status and dynamics, and evaluating the predator impact and human activity on cheetah behavior and survival. The head of the Project, Dr. Elena Chelysheva, was working in 2001-2002 as Assistant Researcher at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Maasai-Mara Cheetah Conservation Project. At that time, she developed original method of cheetah identification based on visual analysis of the unique spot patterns on front limbs (from toes to shoulder) and hind limbs (from toes to the hip), and spots and rings on the tail (Cat News #41, 2004 http://www.catsg.org/cheetah/01_information/1_3_periodical-reports/cat-news/cat-news.htm). Collected over the years, photographic data allows the Project team tracing kinship between generations and building Mara Cheetah Pedigree. The data collected helps to reveal parental relationship between individuals, survival rate of cubs, cheetah lifespan and personal reproductive history. This work has never been done before and the team is sharing results with the Mara stakeholders and respondents. The ongoing research is a follow-up study, which will compare results with the previous one in terms of cheetah population status and effect of human activity on cheetah behavior and surviving. The project is working in affiliation with Kenya Wildlife Service, Narok and Transmara County Councils and with assistance of Coordinator of Maasai-Mara Cultural Village Tour Association (MMCVTA). The team is cooperating with Mara Hyena Project and working with managers and driver-guides from over 30 different Mara camps and lodges. Rangers and driver/guides are trained cheetah identification techniques and provided with Catalogues of the Mara cheetahs.