Category Archives: Antelopes

Great Gnews from NNP

Pictures by Alexandra Spyratos:

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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.

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For many years now, there have been about  250 individuals in the Park & the fast-dwindling dispersal area to the South.

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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.

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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…

 

Waterbuck in NNP

 

By Will Knocker:

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Common  waterbuck in Nairobi National Park: not a numerous species in what is a predominantly savannah park…

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There are two separate populations in the park: in the Athi Basin & to the West, in the Langata Forest.

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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?)

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A fine male….

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Nairobi National Park boasts no less than 16 sp. of antelope: what a refuge for these beautiful ungulates.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterbuck

 

 

On the Athi Plains

By Will Knocker:

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Is there a better place to be than on the African Plain?

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On the Athi Plain in particular where grass is a super-abundant resource….

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NNP & what is left (very little) of the dispersal area is home to a herd of 4000 Plains zebra…

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and 18 species of Bovidae (buffalo & antelopes..)

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And all this in a city of 5 million H. sapiens………WOW !

Bushbuck

By Will Knocker:

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A female bushbuck in it’s element in one of the many diverse habitats in Nairobi National Park, where it is common.

 

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Although common (the most widespread antelope sp. in Africa) bushbuck are solitary creatures & usually difficult to spot (apart from in NNP!)

 

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They can live easily near people, although they are widely hunted for their meat outside protected areas.

 

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As shown here, if not persecuted, they can be very tolerant of people (this image actually from Aberdares NP)

 

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The beautiful bushbuck is easily bayed up by pursuing dogs, but hopefully not in the protected areas of Nairobi National Park.

More info:    http: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushbuck

 

 

 

 

Thirsty Herds

By Will Knocker:

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It looks like the Rains have failed in Southern Kenya & the Park is getting very dry, causing the  wildebeest population (c.250 animals) to come into the Park proper from the Sheep & Goat land across the Empakasi.

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 Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus). This is a rare sub-species of gnu which consists of less than 5000 individuals East of the Rift Valley. In this respect Nairobi National Park is a very important haven for these creatures.

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Plains zebra watering at the Athi dam.

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Zebra & gnu in the Athi Basin.

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Gravel pits become useful water points in dry years like this.

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A wet August was not great for nesting ostriches, but these guys seem to be alright. Sadly very heavy mortality  amongst young ostrich means that almost certainly these chicks will be eaten!

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Crowned Eagle on Kill….

Story & images by STEVE GARVIE:

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Our driver guide Ben Gitari suggested we take the forest trail and it was his sharp eyes that first picked out the bird. He later said that he had always thought this to be a likely area in which to find Crowned Eagles and indeed though within NNP the immediate area was more like riparian forest

 

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 I think she had already butchered and consumed part of the carcase (presumably at the capture site) before she flew up into the tree with what was left. When we first found her she had the head, neck and upper chest with at least one leg still attached. The leg appeared to be dark but this may have been blood-staining. The leg and rib cage were quickly discarded as she set about opening up the cranium and consuming its contents (all pretty gross to watch -my teen daughter was none too impressed!).

 

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I’m still not certain as to exactly what “Bambi” is but the dark chestnut fur and black on the snout and onto the forehead are not typical features of Suni. Harvey’s (Red) Duiker are larger and heavier than Suni as they are larger in the body (but not much different in head size).
I get the impression that Suni would be much more common in NNP than Harvey’s Duiker but as Crowned Eagles will kill antelope up to the size of young Bushbuck both of these small forest antelope will be on the menu.
I have a poor image of Suni here: http://www.pbase.com/rainbirder/image/93378637 and there is an image of Harvey’s Duiker here: http://www.tanzaniamammals.org/uploads/photos/std/DK2_Harvey’s%20duiker3.jpg

 

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Regardless of whether the prey was a Duiker or a Suni this was one impressive eagle !

Glorious Biodiversity of NNP

By Will Knocker:

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Malachite kingfisher…

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A mating bull hippo: don’t you love the look on his face? (The cow is completely submerged!)

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Male waterbuck…

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Recently it has been very dry in the Park…

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“Don’t mess with me,buddy!”

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Elegant strider of the plains…the Secretary Bird. There are several breeding pairs in NNP…

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Assemblage of waterfowl at Empakasi dam…

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Bohor reedbuck..

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Downtown Nairobi…..how lucky is this city?

The Last Gnus

By Will Knocker:

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C. t. albojubatus (Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest), of which species the IUCN says: ” However, recent population estimates suggest that the future prospect of some subpopulations or subspecies is of some concern, particularly that of the Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest (which, it seems, may have undergone a precipitous decline in numbers).”

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Hope for the future? A yearling (born March 2012)……

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This species was once one of the most numerous herbivores wandering the vast high plains of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem of which NNP is the last remaining pristine corner: it has been estimated that there were 100,000 at the beginning of the Twentieth century.

Now: “Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest, 94,000 (with about two-thirds in and around protected areas)”, of which we in NNP have about one hundred & fifty individuals (144 counted in February game count).

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‘Our’ gnus tend to live on the rapidly dwindling Sheep & Goat Land between the park & the ever-burgeoning New Town of Kitengela south of the Park, which is heavily grazed short-grass plain habitat. The question must be: will they move into the Park once this last stronghold goes the way of the rest of the ecosystem?

The majority of the gnus in the Athi Kapiti live south of the Athi-Namanga highway, which they cannot cross to get to the Park. These will find it difficult to survive in an increasingly humanised & truncated ecosystem .

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Cows & yearlings in the Athi Basin yesterday…

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Our last few Eastern White-bearded gnus, for whom the Nairobi National Park is their last refuge…..

For more info on on-going research: http://www.nrel.colostate.edu/projects/gnu/nnp.php

The Difference between a Suni & a Dikidik

By Will Knocker (Photos by Gareth Jones):

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A dikdik (this is Kirk’s as different to Guenther’s which inhabits the arid North of Kenya) in the Park: an unusual sight although they are common in the abutting Silole Sanctuary area…..

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Gareth, was this pic taken in Silole, or the Park? In game counts, Suni (see below) are often described as ‘dikdik’….

The Suni, below (from ‘esuuni': a small antelope in Maa) is a dwarf antelope inhabiting forest areas: it is a completely different animal to the dikdik, which likes semi-arid localities….

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Do let me know of your sightings of these 2 species of small buck & has anyone seen a Red Forest duiker (reportedly present in Langata forest), Steinbuck or Oribi recently? The Park is a haven of course for so many species of antelope….

 

A Day in the Park 17th Jan

By Will Knocker:

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I was woken up by this Variable Sunbird (male of course) fighting with himself in my bedroom window…..

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And at Main Gate, my guest Jess & I got caught up in the early morning circus: 2 male lions rubbing themselves in a buffalo pat!

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The 2 males: looking thin: c’mon guys, you are supposed to be Super Predators & the Park is full of Prey!

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A Blacksmith plover….

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Kanga……Guinea-fowl have done well this year, with many grown chicks evident….

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Chandler’s Mountain reedbuck in the Sosian valley….

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A Yellowneck spurfowl with a runny beak….

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And 2 African spoonbills………spoooning…….

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Athi Dam megacroc getting some dirty looks…..

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Lone bushbuck……(called Abu Naba in Arabic…any Arabic speakers out there?)

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As Jess said “wall-to-wall” zebras in the Athi Basin, where wildlike is concentrated at present….

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Upupa epops, the African hoopoe…what a lovely bird!

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And to end a splendid day in the incomparable NNP: a monitor lizard at Nangolomon Dam (it should be Narok Omom): “Black Head” in Maa, referring to the Langata forest…..