Dispersal Area


By Will Knocker:


For many years now, folks concerned with Nairobi National Park & it’s future have discussed the “migration” of wildlife in & out of the Park through “corridors” to a “conservation area” somewhere in the Kitengela. The fact is that NNP is now, to all intents & purposes, surrounded by the city & my purpose in this photo-essay is to show that this is the sad truth…


The only area unfenced along the Southern boundary of the Park is in the Athi Basin, west of Athi River town, where a Block of the Park exists in fact ACROSS the Empakasi river. This Block adjoins an area called the Sheep & Goat land which is supposedly government land but is in fact occupied & grazed by the local Maasai.


Brand new house & fence in this area, supposedly leased by the Wildlife Foundation as open rangeland suitable for wildlife.


This area is vital for the Park’s population of Eastern White-Bearded wildebeest, of which about 250 individuals exist in the Park from an estimated population of 100,000 in the Athi Kapiti ecosystem a hundred years ago…. they give birth to their calves outside the Park.



The area, especially in the woodland within the Park, has been taken over by the dreaded invasive weed Parthenium.


The boundary road along the edge of the Park.


The Athi Plains were rich & very biodiverse, especially in species of large grazers. These are now confined to the Park.


The Last Gnu? We’re nearly there….


A vision of the Future: urbanization & a world in which wild grazers have been replaced by cattle.


The Sheep & Goat Land today (all that is left of the ‘Dispersal Area’): homesteads, roads, ploughed areas, livestock, people, dogs,boda-bodas….is this really suitable for wildlife?


This just about sums it up……


The Park boundary….


This image shows the extraordinary richness of the grasslands of the Athi-Kapiti ecosystem, if it were protected, as this is, by fencing, paradoxically death to the population of wild grazers which once made this area a second Serengeti.

The parcelling out of the plains continues apace: you can buy yours by looking for ‘Kitengela Plots for Sale’ in your paper today.

Luckily, we still have the whole 120 square kilometres of the Park without people, livestock  or fences as a last refuge .




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  1. Jimmy
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Sums up the problems facing conservation across Africa ie. lack of family planning, corruption, unsustaineable farming practices etc.

    Realistically this park has no other future than as a glorified zoo. Maybe its time to accept this reality and try and secure Parks whose location might offer more hope

  2. willknocker
    Posted August 5, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy this might be a pessimistic view of the Dispersal Area but never fear, the Park itself is in EXCELLENT health……with healthy pops. of all mammals except cheetahs…..

  3. Lesley
    Posted August 6, 2014 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Ahh .. Sigh .. So sad. In about 2003 I filmed what I reckoned was the last migration of wildebeest coming into the park .. There were about 1000 of them .. They had been Dwindling by about 1000 each year. The trouble of course in such a small closed area, is inbreeding … Especially for the lions … If it is not managed … Well done for your photo essay. It is important documentation for the future. Wish I could get to the park as often as I used to.

  4. Jo Kinnear
    Posted August 12, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    It is sad that the dispersal zone has not been protected. Seems NNP will become a fenced park – it practically is already. Good work in capturing the situation as is

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