The Maasai are a pastoral people. They live from their cattle, moving them to where there is grass, on a system which is represented in the diagram on this page.

There is  a wet season and a dry season in the areas occupied by the Maasai - roughly southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. However, the rains cannot be depended upon every year - either in timing or in quantity.

The centre of the Maasai system is the dry season where their cattle must have access to a permanent water source - a spring-fed well, or something similar. During the dry season, they will use the (dry-ish) grass in the immediate area, and take their animals to the water every two days or so, using a queueing system.

In the wet season, grass will sprout in areas without a permanent water source, and they will move their herds there. They will establish wet season bases, and attempt to make the optimum use of the available grass, circling in a cycle to use each patch again as it re-grows.

However, the rains may fail in certain years, and the basic system will not support them. For these times, they have a drought reserve area, which is an area with a permanent source of water and green, such as the area around a river or reliable spring. This drought reserve will not be used in the regular course of years, even though it may be the single most reliable spot, because if it were used, then even a small decrease in rain would cause disaster, since there would be no reserve whatsoever.

Unfortunately , it is often these permanent water points and drought reserve areas which are taken by conservationists as the centre of wildlife parks, since it is here that the wild animals congregate in the greatest numbers in the annual dry season.

Maasai - Savannah People 2/11