Buffaloes of Nairobi National Park

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Formidable bovids, with a fearsome reputation, Cape buffaloes were introduced to NNP, where they did not (in the last 100 years) exist….

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Portrait of a bull: it is true you do not want to meet one of these on foot, but the record shows that generally speaking, buffaloes are intelligent -avoiding people if they can (on the southern boundary of the park, which is unfenced) & are more like (gentle) wild cattle than the monsters familiar from hunter’s tales. If you are hunted, of course you are aggressive….

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NNP now boasts close to 1,000 of these large, social grazers & they are well distributed across the Park.

The significance of this number of large grazers on the 30,000 acres of the Park is considerable.

A few months ago & grass-a normally super-abundant resource in the NNP- a part of the one of the richest grassland ecosystems in Africa-was extremely scarce. Buffaloes are particularly vulnerable to drought owing to their massive bulk.

Now the Park is a sea of long-grazing grass & the migratory sp. -mainly zebra & wildebeest, are on the short grass plains OUTSIDE  the park.

The daily increasing buffalo population should have an impact on the grasslands of the Park, keeping them sweet & precluding the need for controlled burns by the Park’s managers, KWS.

And will our lions (estimated at 35-40) learn to hunt this increasing source of prey?

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Typical members of a herd: cows & calves (a distinctive light brown colour) whilst bulls come & go according to the Bull Politics of the herd, where the meanest & most powerful get to mate with the cows that are in oestrous…..

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Buffaloes are nearly always accompanied by very useful tickbirds (ox-peckers) as they are invariably afflicted by masses of biting ticks….

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Portrait of a bachelor herd…..

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A herd on the plains in the Athi Basin……

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and the herd bull……..

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