By Will Knocker:
It is dry in the Park, so water-holes are at a premium …
By Will Knocker:
A giraffe in the Sosian Valley: King of all he surveys….
Zebras were crossing the Empakasi river to come back into the Park
My favourite spot: the Athi Dam
Nursey herd of Easternwhite-bearded wildebeest at the Athi Dam
Which contains (sometimes hidden) dangers
Eland Hollow, with the city as a backdrop
By Will Knocker:
Things are getting very dry in Nairobi National Park & several sources of water like this gravel pit are now dry: shouldn’t they be scooped out now, ready for the Rains?
Driving into the Mokoyeti valley gives the impression of a dessicated landscape…
The Acacia mellifera is in flower: it only does so when provoked by a dry period: food for bees & other insects…
This is a good time for the scavengers such as these vultures: NNP is a refuge for these Masters of the Skies…not a cloud to be seen
The large mammals such as the 150 or so Masai giraffe we have in the Park are hungry & wandering far in search of browse: they cannot go too far into the humanised world outside the Park: they are constrained…
A victim of drought, strangely untouched by scavengers…
Wildlife ,such as this tommy, stay close to sources of water (Empakasi river)
The wildebeest are giving birth in this unusually dry year: will the precious calves survive? Only a few thousand of this sub-species of gnu exists: about 500 of them in NNP
Nursery herd of Eastern white-bearded gnus
The Plains zebra are foaling too: it’s tough for the youngsters & their lactating mothers too..
The Athi dam is receding & a magnet for all forms of wildlife..
Like these thirsty zebras…
This old Grant’s gazelle will not survive this bitter season
But in the receding dams, new life emerges: White-faced whistling duck & ducklings
Aquatic birds like the splendid Saddle-billed stork look out of place on the dry plains…
Whilst impalas stay in the shade at mid-day
The dams are frequented by thirsty herds…
And the Empakasi river flows very slowly. We all await the Life-giving Rains…..
By Will Knocker
It is said that Nairobi National Park has the greatest concentration of Maasai ostriches
anywhere & certainly it is a good place to observe & photograph these enormous,
ungainly but beautiful birds.
During the Long Rains, when there is plenty to eat, the birds get sexy & mate (see
Chicks hatch & a pair of ostriches might have up to 30 young in their nursery flock,
which are fiercely guarded by the parents.
Sadly ostrich chicks suffer very high mortality & only a few at most manage
to escape the attentions of predators.
In an Anthropecenic world, where there is very little space for ostriches
to freely breed & reproduce, aren’t we fortunate to have the Park as
an a sanctuary for ostriches, amongst many other forms of life?
By Will Knocker:
Black-backed jackals have not been a common sight in NNP in the last ten years.
These delightful little wild canids were feared to have been decimated by domestic dog diseases. The Park, surrounded as it is by the city of Nairobi & it’s suburbs (containing thousands of domestic dogs), certainly does not seem a good place for these fascinating (& difficult to photograph) animals..
But in recent years their numbers have shot up: testament to the extraordinarily large biomass in the Park, where wildlife has nowhere else to live.
At one time, a few years ago the, Park was down to just one breeding female of this sp. after another was run over by a speeding visitor..
Off they go…there were 5 in this family group, whose noctournal yelping “Kwe…Kwe…” I can hear from my home in the Silole Sanctuary just outside the Park….
Pictures by Alexandra Spyratos:
This is an Eastern White Bearded wildebeest, of which there are once estimated to have been 100,000 in the Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem of which Nairobi National Park is a part…
According to http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/5229/0
there were still 90,000 or so of this Kenyan sub-species of gnu in existence in the late 1990’s.
However, estimates of Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest indicate a steep decline in the subspecies’ populations to a current level of perhaps 6,000-8,000 animals. Apart from NNP, the other haven for this sub-species is the Shompole Conservancy.
For many years now, there have been about 250 individuals in the Park & the fast-dwindling dispersal area to the South.
It has been a dry year in Kajiado generally & especially in the intensively grazed Sheep & Goat Land which these short-grass plain grazers like & many wildebeest have moved into the Park with the rain of recent days.
The fantastic news is that the photographer & I counted 450 individuals, many of them young yearlings: the NNP population is INCREASING & will continue to do so in the future given the massive grazing pressure on the Park nowadays: gone are the days when one had to consider burning the Park to manage the grazing: innumerable buffaloes, zebra, kongoni & cattle are seeing to that: the days of grass as a super-abundant resource are well & truly over…
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 .
By Will Knocker:
Common waterbuck in Nairobi National Park: not a numerous species in what is a predominantly savannah park…
There are two separate populations in the park: in the Athi Basin & to the West, in the Langata Forest.
The latter population (in the Langata Forest, which is ideal habitat) is definitely increasing: could this be because lions prefer the grasslands of the Athi Basin, where there are more prey animals (including waterbuck?)
A fine male….
Nairobi National Park boasts no less than 16 sp. of antelope: what a refuge for these beautiful ungulates.
By Adam Scott Kennedy:
These vultures were at the murram pits at the top of the Athi Basin…
Brian Finch poses the question: is this an immature Eurasian Griffon or one of our African Ruppell’s?
Simon Thomsett or Munir Virani, any ID guesses?
Thank goodness NNP remains an oasis for vultures of many species…..