Category Archives: eland

Early Rains

By WILL KNOCKER (who has a new camera):

In NNP we’ve had 100 mm (4 inches) of rain in the last couple of weeks & the Park is looking beautiful…….as usual, at the first sign of rain the grazers head straight out of the park…..

Below, landscape & sky…..

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The  last ‘corridor’ remaining out of the Park is in the east of the Park in the glorious Athi Basin, where wildlife is now concentrated. (I shall post on the crossing shortly.)

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My favourites-eland (which means moose in Dutch!!) with abundant young.

Zebra, kongoni & eland, as well as the gazelle sp. drop their young beginning December….

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There are plenty of giraffe in NNP- 68 in the February count -definitely a MINIMUM number…

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???

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A solitary gnu in the park, Athi Basin in the background…

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And gnu calves & cows on the Sheep & Goat land just outside (but contiguous with) the park. Notice what is behind -to the south -the daily expanding township of Kitengela…..

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Buffalo at the Athi Dam, (247 counted in Feb Game Count.) I’m sure there are many more than this……

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An Athi River mammal eater with his friends (White faced whistling duck)

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NNP surely remains one of the best places in the wild to view Browse rhinos: here are 6 of them in the Athi Basin.

Feral Dog Problem Threatens Newborn Antelopes

Images Courtesy of SQUEAKS VAUGHAN & BRUCE SMITH:

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The beautiful & important Athi Basin (where wildlife comes in & out of the park) is sadly currently a hunting ground for feral dogs from the nearby townships of Kitengela & Athi River….

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The bitch above (who obviously has pups somewhere nearby) was nuzzling at some old bones (she was starving!) just yards away from a hidden, recently born impala calf.

Antelopes which hide their newborn young include eland, the 2 sp. of gazelle & impala & all these are threatened by feral dogs, of which we have seen packs of up to 12 individuals in the Athi Basin.

If the many predators in the area are unable to deal with these ecological pests which threaten this year’s generation of young, are KWS not able to shoot them?

And what will happen when the last few wildebeest in NNP drop their calves in March?

Elegant Eland

Eland are the largest sp. of African antelope: huge, gentle, versatile (they both graze & browse, depending on what is seasonally available.)

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We have about 500 of these superb antelopes in Nairobi National Park.

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In the past, they spent wet seasons in the dispersal area: in the Kitengela Conservation Area (so called) south of the park.

Despite the best efforts of the US based Wildlife Foundation to lease land in the dispersal area, much of it is no longer suitable for wildlife (except for the incredibly adaptable Plains zebra.)

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At any rate this shy sp., intolerant of noise & other human encroachment on it’s historical range, has voted with it’s hooves.

Apart from on the Sheep & Goat land immediately adjacent to the Athi Basin, eland are now confined to the park.

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Thank goodness that this haven for the wildlife of the truncated Athi Kapiti Ecosysten exists…..

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Can you imagine the African savannah without this huge, majestic creature?

In most other African countries, it has been extirpated……..

Eland in Nairobi National Park

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A cow eland in the Nairobi National Park, an oasis for the largest antelope in the world.

These animals are your writer’s particular favourite animals, large, beautiful, gentle & perfectly adapted to living in the vagaries of Africa’s savannah ecosystems, of which the NNP is a perfect example.

Grazing 25% of their food in the scarce wet seasons, making use of the abundant grass resource when it is available & then browsing in the dry season, or in dry areas, eland traditionally wandered over huge areas at will……

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An eland bull- a truly massive animal -heavier even than a buffalo according to Kingdon-& formidable, as demonstrated by bulls’ ability to graze in long grass areas without fear of lion predation.

Generally however, the eland’s primary response to danger is to run away or jump: they are spectacular leapers able to jump over fences with effortless ease (especially the cows:bulls are a little too massive!)

We have 500 + eland in the park & I see this population rising over time as their shyness & alertness prevents them from wandering out into the fast-diminishing ‘dispersal area’ outside of the park, which is increasingly humanised by the day & where delicious eland meat is at a premium in a country where the poor cannot afford to but meat in butcheries = plenty of illegal hunting for bushmeat.

In the park they are safe…..& to successfully breed as well…..

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A bull eland looks down at the writer’s cottage in the Silole Sanctuary, just outside the park.

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A bull eland browsing. Not only can they make use of available plant nutrients, eland are very efficient in their use of water & can live in arid areas or exist without drinking for long periods . Compare their dry droppings to the wet pats of cattle…..

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A bull & youngsters, which have an intense attraction for one another & so are found in (usually large-especially in NNP) nursery herds where they seem to communally suckle from lactating cows . ( Might an expert enlighten us on this thesis?)

Eland milk is one of the richest milks in nature (like whale milk) & young eland grow rapidly as  result.

Africa has not been innovative in using it’s wildlife eg. hippoes are the creatures which are most efficient in turning grass into meat (protein) in comparison to inefficient & resource gobbling domestic animals.  In contrast,eland have been domesticated on the steppes of Russia, where their milk is fed to the sick in local hospitals…..

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Long live these elegant & beautifully adapted animals in Nairobi National Park…….