By Will Knocker:
Yesterday was a super rhino day in NNP: this was the view from my breakfast room in the Silole Sanctuary on the edge of the Park.
Behind the giraffe ‘gardeners’: 4 browse rhinos on the ridge (Somali Ridge) behind…..
Then I found this lone bull a kilometer or so away……
And then this cow on the edge of the Sosian Valley….
And her calf…….
Truly awesome animals, threatened by human ignorance & greed.
Your writer was taught ‘safari’ by his mother, now 85, who stopped by for a run in the Nairobi National Park last saturday on her way to Tanzania……
First we came across Ujonjo at the top of the Mokoyeti valley
He proceeded to bellow -the first time that Ma had seen a lion roaring
Down the road we met a second male, whom I believe to be Ujonjo’s son…here he is listening to Ujonjo roaring whereupon he responded with his own full-bodied bellow, which echoed up & down the valley. Truly awesome, to use an over-used word…..
‘Son of Ujonjo’ -any names out there? -in the Mokoyeti valley
We then moved to the Athi Basin & the Athi Dam, magical in the early morning light.
Herds of zebra & gnu were coming to drink along with noisy Yellow throated sandgrouse making their distinctive ‘tirikoko’ calls: which is why the Maasai call them……..tirikoko…….
Black backed jackals are uncommon in the park (one of the few females was recently killed by a speeding vehicle) so it was more Ma’s Luck to find this pair: these animals pairs for life……
Next up was the splendid sight of thousands of zebra in the valley between Eland Hollow & the East Gate junction, along with masses of other plains sp. -see in the background below
And these 5 White rhinos…..
Last of all, we found yet another maned lion, this one consorting with a lioness close to the milling herds near Eland Hollow.
What a day! What a park!
Photos by Ned Knocker (aged 10):
The Nairobi National Park black rhinos are much more difficult to see than the introduced whites, which are placid owing to their inbred genetic inheritance. Black females (which nearly always have calves at heel) usually trot off at the approach of a vehicle…..
Not so this bull, encountered on the early morning school run….notice the wound on his chest…….sign of a fight with another male?
Here he comes: Ned has nerves of steel…….
We’re out of there!!!!
Photos by Ned Knocker:
We met a group of 6 white (or grass ) rhinos on the way to school…..
There are 11 in total in Nairobi National Park; one of the translocated females gave birth justs days after arriving from Nakuru NP……
Here she is……one could never get this close to our native black rhinos. These are Southern White Rhinos from Southern Africa, whilst our Blacks are the East African sub-species (michealii) of the browse rhino.
Here is a white bull: notice his extraordinary pendulous lips (a very wide mouth:hence ‘white’ rhino) adapted to cropping grass on the savannah…
Nairobi National Park is one of the best places anywhere to observe wild black (browse) rhinos. Here is a lone bull (cows nearly always have a calf at heel), Ngong Hills in the background…
The prehistoric appearance of this massive herbivores belies their incredible sense of hearing & smell…..
NNP rhinoes have ear notches for easy identification in the field. It is not always easy to get close to wild blacks -they are shy & retiring & VERY wary of humans.
This is unsurprising given the fact that there are estimated to be about 700 of these creatures left after their population was decimated by hunting in the last 40 years.
Of these, most are to be found in Rhino Sanctuaries in Kenya, of which NNP is one of the most successful in providing a breeding haven for these magnificent pachyderms.
Keeping a close eye on the future……
The Grass (White) rhinoes translocated into NNP about a year ago have settled in very well.
They are 11 in total including the calf (a male) born in the Park.
Portrait of a White Rhino: grass eaters, with wide mouths & rubbery lips……
Much easier to photograph than the Black rhinoes that are much more numerous in Nairobi Park, Grass rhinoes are very docile owing to a limited genetic pool from which they all descend.
Peculiar that these enormous pachyderms have found somewhere to live: cheek-by-jowl with a city of 5 million!!!!
For those readers of this blog who might be interested in the baby grass rhino that was born in Nairobi Park a year or so ago, here are some updated pics & I can confirm that he is a male!!
Here is an image of perhaps the most beautiful bit of NNP: the Athi Basin, in the east of the park. Although most of Kenya is receiving/has received good rains by now, ending the drought, Athi River seems to have been left out.
The result is that for the second (or even third?) year running, the migratory species (especially zebra) are still confined to the park & especially the western end, where the rains have been good.
Above is the Athi Dam, which threatens to disappear completely unless there is heavy rain soon….will the resident crocs migrate down to the Hippo Pools on the Empakasi River (now thankfully full of brown soil-filled floodwater? I suspect they’ve already gone….
The Athi Basin, with the Athi Dam in the foreground & the industrial conurbation that is Athi River township beyond…
The image above clearly shows the incredible paradox of the park: 150 sq kilometres (park plus neighbouring sanctuaries & immediate dispersal area) surrounded by urban/suburban areas such as the fast growing dormitory town of Kitengela (the mabati roofs glinting on the horizon.)
Foreground the park down to the riverine boundary, mid distance, sheep & goat land (beloved by wildebeest & Masai cattle camps designed to graze cattle in the park -now empty owing to drought in this area….)background Kitengela.
The almost complete denudation of vegetation in the park has made it very easy to see our resident black rhinoes, which I estimate at 35. The rhino patrol in the park has ceased operation for the last 2 years. Why?
Two cows probably a mother & mature calf at the top of the Sosian Valley. Notice the notched ear, which is how individuals are recognisable. Not all the rhinoes in the park are marked in this way, however…..