The Athi Kapiti grasslands, of which the Nairobi National Park is a part – a dry season refuge for the grazers, both domestic & wild, that live here-is one of the richest rangelands in the world.
A prolonged dry cycle, a truncating ecosystem (thanks to NNP’s position right next to the rapidly expandig city of Nairobi) & too much livestock on a diminishing & degrading grass resource outside the park has led to thousands of cattle grazing within it.
Above you can see a microcosm of healthy rangeland -forbs, herbs & grasses which provide for the rich diversity of herbivores which depend upon it.
The park has received fair rains, in contrast with the dispersal area & the wider Kajiado district, which is suffering from drought, is terribly overgrazed & where sights such as above are no longer seen…..
A view of the Athi Basin in the park, the Athi Dam in the foreground & large herds of cattle in the background. This picture is taken on a sunday evening, when visitor numbers are at a premium. Notice the zebra in the foreground, now filtering back into the park after the traditional ‘migration’ out of he park during the rains. They didn’t find much grazing out on the plains……
Cattle……INSIDE the electric boundary fence……..
A vision of the future for NNP?
Note the herd of resting wildebeest behind the grazing cattle.
The protected areas of Kenya are currently under siege by cattle & livestock generally, because of the drought. There is a clear conflict of interest between that of KWS (mandated to protect & manage protected areas) & pastoralists whose livestock is threatened by the drought.
But if livestock is allowed to graze in parks (often because of political pressure) then what becomes of park rules? If herders are allowed in the park with hundreds of cattle why should anybody else PAY to enter ? Overseas visitors pay 40$ to visit NNP. Are they getting their moneysworth? Will they return in the future? What will they tell their tour operators back home?
Nairobi National Farm?