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A vision of the Future: urbanization & a world in which wild grazers have been replaced by cattle.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