Category Archives: dry cycle

Awesome Day in the Park!

Story & pics by WILL KNOCKER:

On wednesday this week, Ed & Jeremy Hildebrand & I spent all day in the Park in superb weather & saw the best that the constantly surprising NNP has to offer….. first, these rhinos, note the bull on the right marking his territory with a horizontal blast of pee…

Early morning along the Empakasi was like a Vision of Eden…..

Then we came across this nursey herd of eland (calves suckle from any lactating female they find, an adaption to the nomadic way of life of these antelopes, who are constantly on the move.) NNP contains one of the most significant herds of eland in Kenya & the population is rising…

We definitely had a rhino day: we saw several unusual herds of Black (Browse) rhinos at close quarters….

We stopped for coffee at the Athi Dam, where zebra were watering & this kongoni posed for us. The kongoni population in NNP is exploding, bucking the trend in the rest of Kenya, where this sp. is in steep decline..

A spiral of large raptors brought us to this dramatic site: a kill…..

Ant the perpetrator, a stuffed lioness….

A pair of jackals tried to drive off the estimated 80 vultures gathered for the feast: an eland….but were ignored…..

But all soon moved off at the ‘owner’ returned to protect her kill….

There was masses of ‘plains game’ in the Athi Basin & on the top plains, where we found these zebra twins….

The Rains have not been good so far & so most biomass is in the park owing to overgrazing in the rangelands where they usually go at this time of year. The return of both Gran’ts & Thomson’s gazelles to the Park after many years of a ‘long grass’ regime is heartening. But where are the cheetah?

Ostriches under a big blue sky….

Proved to be a group with an adolescent chick: the last survivor (there is very heavy mortality amongst young ostriches…)

Then clever Ed spotted no less than six Black backed jackals: a pair of adults & four grown up cubs: great news for these little canids, which are not common in NNP…..

A bull Grass (White) rhino…..was this the individual translocated from the Mara after all his companions were killed?

As usual the Park was A1 for birds……this is a Superb starling, though we also saw the aptly named Hildebrandt’s……

And yet another bull rhino……

This was all BEFORE lunch, when we returned to Silole Cottage, where these piggies were enjoying a cooling wallow.

In the afternoon, yet more (Browse) rhinos…..

And in the Langata forest, Jeremy spotted this pair of magnificent Bateleurs, the only pair in the Park!!

And on our way home, in the distance, a new baby rhino…we couldn’t make out which type….

What a day! What a Park!









Cranes of NNP

By Will Knocker:

The Grey Crowned Crane is one of Africa’s iconic birds…

In NNP, we are lucky to have many of these fabulous birds..

Each wetland -& there are may dams, swamps & seasonal pans in the park, is a potential breeding spot for a pair of cranes….

This is a gravel-pit dug by KWS as part of road maintenance in the park, now part of NNP’s many & varied habitats….

In these days when so many fabulous forms of life are endangered because they have NOWHERE TO LIVE, NNP remains an oasis……..

In the wet season, cranes pair up, but in the dry they can be found in quite large flocks on the plains…..

A young bird: this years exceptionally good rains has meant that many pairs of cranes have raised 2 chicks each!!

The Herds are Back…

By Will Knocker:

After months of greenery & long grass, the Park has turned tawny & the migratory herds are back: eland do not go far: across the Empakasi into the Sheep & Goat land. This is one of Kenya’s significant populations..

The NNP kongoni (Coke’s hartebeest) population is a conundrum: it used to consist of 2 populations, resident & migratory. As the migratory population has been confined to the Park (the remaining dispersal area is short grass plain-unsuitable for this sp. which is adapted to long grass areas) the population has shot up, in spite of record numbers of lions, for whom kongoni are a favourite prey sp.  …

The Plains zebra are back! In a year of good rain such as this, our population of up to 4000 roam as far as they can in the remaining dispersal areas. However it seems that even these remarkably adaptive creatures, able to deal with the suburban conditions (fences, people, dogs) outside the park have had to overcome their fears about lions & have come back in small family groups & some bigger migratory mobs consisting of hundreds of animals…the lions will be happy!

Up until the turn of the century, such sights would have included thousands of wildebeeste, but alas the last few hundred like the short grass plain of the Sheep & Goat land & only venture into the park if pressed by drought conditions….

NNP remains the last pristine corner of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem, now a truncated shadow of what it once was. It is so encouraging to see the herds of migratory species come back to the park safe & sound after the Rains…..













Sad Sacrifice

By Will Knocker:

On sunday, all that remained of a cock ostrich that had been sitting on a nest I was aware of….

The good news is that the HEN was still sitting on some eggs, so let us hope some chicks manage to survive this sad story…

Kori bustards in NNP

Images by Will Knocker……

NNP Predators Gather At Kill…

Images by Dave McKelvie:





NNP Drying Up Fast After Good Rains

Images by Will Knocker:

I am finally back online after numerous setbacks, including kids melting down computer settings, including for this blog, over Xmas. Please excuse abscence!!


A herd of buffalo chewing the cud in the rapidly drying NNP


Kori bustards are doing well in NNP….



Cape chestnut in flower in the Langata forest after excellent short rains


Greenvein charaxes (Charaxes candiope) feeding on carnivore faeces


Many eland are back in the Park, having spent the rainy season in the Athi Basin & Sheep & Goat Land


An old veteran, blind in one eye & deaf…I’m surprised the 40 odd lions in the Park have not eaten him yet…


White bellied go away bird: a species of the dry bush: are they getting more common in NNP (ie is it becoming drier?)

New Ostriches Arrive





A Tale of Two Lionesses

By Will Knocker:


2 lionesses patrolling the swamp below Hyena Dam….they have not eaten…


A magnificent female lion, big & strong, but thin….


Here she comes….


Panting: it is hot; 11 am & she has just missed a warthog kill attempt….


View through the windscreen: why do lions generally completely ignore vehicles?


The second lioness, smaller & just healing from a shoulder wound, probably the result of an attack by a male


Poor old girl: she will not survive long: no teeth……..


Off they go (to cubs in the case of the big lioness?), tired & hungry……a lion’s life is not an easy one…..

(Short)Wet Season in NNP

By Will Knocker:


The township of Kitengela lit up by the sun…..from the park.


Plains zebra; Ngong Hills behind.


A large mob of zebra were grazing the lush grass of the Empakasi floodplain.



The rangeland in the park is in excellent condition, with plenty of short-grass plain habitat & plenty of grass in reserve in the Acacia drepanalobium plains in the North of the Park, in what promises to be a dry year.


The Plain in the City.