By Will Knocker
Close-up of Parthenium weed, an invasive species rapidly encroaching on Nairobi National Park..this is in the Park, at the Athi dam… I have also seen invasions along the Athi River -Namanga highway & along the shores of Lake Victoria.
IF YOU SEE THIS PLANT PULL IT UP, (though gloves are advisable for big infestations)
Originally from Central America, this “noxious annual herb appears to have entered the Park in water flows , as well as on the wheels & radiators & under-carriages of vehicles & earth-moving equipment.
Parthenium infestations have CAUSED THE COLLAPSE OF MANY GRASSLAND ECOSYSTEMS AROUND THE WORLD in lands as widely spread as India & Austalia.”
“The FONNAP Natural History Guide to Nairobi National Park”
“No more than half a metre tall, Parthenium releases toxic allelo-chemicals into the soil that inhibit gowth & germination of other species. Its abundant seeds are readily dispersed by the elements. Each seed can grow within one month into a mature plant capable of producing another 25000 seeds viable for 2 years or longer…
Parthenium contains potent allergins harmful to the health of ungulates & people.”
Contact with this plant causes dermatitis and respiratory malfunction in humans, in cattle and domestic animals, due to the presence of toxin parthenin.
“Even in mixed forage, the unpalatable leaves,” which blister the mouths of grazers,”taint the flesh & milk of grazing animals. The extent of the potential disruption to the foodchain in incalculable.”
These pictures are taken on the Magadi Road, next to the Media College bumps, but Parthenium is now established (forever…that is the reality of Invasive Species) along all of Nairobi’s new highway & bypass verges. This is within a few yards of the Park…
Thankfully, Parthenium finds it difficult to establish itself in pristine grassland, but alarmingly, it is spreading along the roads & rivers of NNP & especially in the Athi Basi with the new pylon lines. ( No thanks to KWS.)
What can be done?
‘ If the population in cultivated field is light, it should be removed manually. Otherwise it will spread very fast and the population will reach beyond control’… a situation already reached in some parts of the Park.
Last year I organised an Invasive sp. workshop at Silole Sanctuary through FONNAP: it was well attended & we told KWS we were ready to collaborate on removing this dangerous invader from the Park.
The response: nothing.
As far as I am aware there are no efforts being made to eradicate Parthenium, or any other Invasive sp. from the Park…..