Kenya: Safarilink Plane Hits Wildebeest While Landing at Maasai Mara

16 August 2019

A Safarilink commercial aircraft hit wildebeest while landing at Kichwa Tembo Airstrip at the Maasai Mara National Reserve on Friday.

The Dash 8 aircraft, registration 5Y-SLM, got into the accident during a scheduled service on the Nairobi (Wilson) - Maasai Mara - Nairobi (Wilson) route.

In a statement, Safarilink's management said the animals ran across the runway as the aircraft landed at about 1pm.

"We are thankful to confirm all passengers and crew are safe and that there are no injuries or fatalities."

LANDING STRIPS

The statement said the aircraft was disabled and that another was dispatched to take engineers and company staff to the site to assess the situation.

At the time of landing, some 10 vehicles were parked at the airstrip in the Mara triangle with drivers and tour guides set to pick passengers and taken them to lodges and camps including Kichwa Tembo.

Safarilink flies from Wilson to various landing strips including Keekorok, Mara North, Musiara, Serena, Angama, Olkiombo and Kichwa Tembo.

There isn't an airport for the Mara but there are several landing strips within it, from where commercial planes pick and drop passengers.

BOOM

The wildebeest are found all over the reserve, their numbers determined by the seasons.

They are the main attraction for both local and international tourists, with hundreds of tour vans crisscrossing the 1,526 sq-kilometer savanna.

For the last two months, business has been booming at the Maasai Mara, to the point of overwhelming camp lodges.

Most tour companies have been asking visitors to travel by air while the lodges and tented camps in the reserve have sought extra accommodation elsewhere.

August is often the peak period in the year, with thousands of international tourists visiting to witness the wildebeest migration, the seventh wonder of the world.

According to Antony Tira of Matira Tented Camp, tour operators and hoteliers in the reserve reported full bookings from July.

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