Category Archives: silole sanctuary

Jackals in NNP

By Will Knocker:


Black-backed jackals have not been a common sight in NNP in the last ten years.


These delightful little wild canids were feared to have been decimated by domestic dog diseases. The Park, surrounded as it is by the city of Nairobi & it’s suburbs (containing thousands of domestic dogs), certainly does not seem a good place for these fascinating (& difficult to photograph) animals..


But in recent years their numbers have shot up: testament to the extraordinarily large biomass in the Park, where wildlife has nowhere else to live.



At one time, a few years ago the, Park was down to just one breeding female of this sp. after another was run over by a speeding visitor..


Off they go…there were 5 in this family group, whose noctournal yelping “Kwe…Kwe…” I can hear from my home in the Silole Sanctuary just outside the Park….

Wildlife Flourishing in NNP

By Will Knocker:






Chui Spotting…

By Will Knocker:


On sunday afternoon  I was at the Masai Gate (which borders on the Silole Sanctuary) when the KWS ranger on duty – Jackson ole Kuyioni- looked over my shoulder down towards the brodge over the Empakasi River…”Do you want to see a chui?” he asked in Kiswahili

“Look up in the big acacia!” Can you see the leopard here?


The binoculars revealed the cat just 75 m away, listening to us chatting: suburban leopard!


Hopefully the leopard population in NNP is going up since two  of the big cats were poisoned by a new neighbour near the Sanctuary a year or two ago….

Hyenas in NNP

By Will Knocker:


One of the most reviled of the African mammal species, but to my mind, one of the most interesting: the highly social, very intelligent, noisy, matriarchal Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta)…….


Now that the Park is so full of wildlife, the hyenas are doing well & they also have the southern suburbs next to the Park to forage in at night. They do very well in the Silole Sanctuary where I live (adjacent to Ongata Rongai) where they love to scoff an occasional dog if they can catch one!

Here they are investigating something they can smell: like all mammals & especially carnivores, smell is key to their view of the world…


Hyenas are dominated by the female of the species, who is pumped full of testostorone. Males (smaller & inferior to the dominant females) come way down the scale in Hyena society & are mere sex-slaves…


Tail up is a sign of aggression/excitement: they probably smelled lions, or  competing hyenas. At night, excited hyenas emit the most extraordinary noises, including the far-carrying whoop which is one of the most evocative sounds of the African bush….


For many years, misunderstood by people & poisoned, killed & persecuted, these amazing (& generally inoffensive: they are highly intelligent & steer clear of trouble) large carnivores are becoming much more numerous & visible in Nairobi National Park, a haven for this sp. as for so many others…..

Short Rains Indeed….

By Will Knocker:


The Short Rains have proved to be very short indeed in NNP, although in the last few days the Langata Forest will have greened up with some decent rain to begin December…


Gazelles are plentiful in the park now, as it is so dry & overgazed in the Sheep & Goat land, on the short grass plains where they like to be…. what happened to these cheetahs , KWS, could you not bring them here now gazelles are so plentiful?


 Owing to the incipient drought, hundreds of cattle are in the park day & night, displacing precious Browse rhinos from their habitat…


The City on the Plain….


Many sp. of mammal have given birth, expecting plenty of food from the rainy season… will these new youngsters fare in the challenging conditions of drought which will carry on until our next rains in April??



Dreaded Parthenium in NNP

By Will Knocker:


The dreaded Parthenium Weed -spread by human activities such as road building -has gained a foothold in Nairobi National Park, especially in the Athi Basin area, where a pylon line is currently being constructed….floodwater also spreads the seeds, so we can expect mega-infestation after the current Rains…


Each single plant is said to be able to produce 25,ooo seeds -if you want to see the end result, look on the verges of the new by-pass from JKIA heading to the Thika Highway: what a mess….


The experts tell us that this is a plant (it is of the Feverfew family) which poisons its neighbours, including grass & is a major threat to African grassland ecosystems…in Ethiopia (where it first arrived in Famine Relief supplies) it has compromised thousands of acres of rangeland.

Parthenium causes allergic reactions in people & animals, so pull it up with gloves or a handkerchief…..if you see this plant: DESTROY IT!!


Parthenium is not to be confused with one of our commonest & most widely spread wild flower species Heliotropium (see above)

For more information:

Consider the lilies of the field….

By Will Knocker:

“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these……..”

So says the Good Book & this year’s rains in Nairobi National Park has brought out the wild flowers in all their glorious profusion:


Wild harebells:Cyphia glandulifera…..


Pentanesia ouranogune


Ipomoea jaegeri


Hypoxis obtusa


The glorious, scented Gladiolus candidus….


The ubiquitous Heliotropum, one of the commonest wildflower geni in Kenya:

The word “heliotropium” is the Latin name for an ancient plant which had
the unique habit of turning to face the sun at all times. The plant’s name is
derived from two Greek words: helio, meaning “sun,” and tropos, meaning “turn.”


Pentas parvifolia



One for you Flower Fundis out there…..


Come on, readers….what have we got here?

Below, Commelina reptans….

DSCF5367 DSCF5372

Commelinia ecklonia ssp. nairobiensis


Bauhinia sp..


The aptly named Gloriosa superba…

Roaring Rivers

By Will Knocker:


The Empakasi river in spate…


Empakasi Gorge…



The road to Masai Gate: would you cross?


Perhaps not….


The Kiserian river just downstream, muddy with grey clay..


Striped swallow, enjoying?


The Empakasi below Hippo pools….


The Difference between a Suni & a Dikidik

By Will Knocker (Photos by Gareth Jones):


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…..


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….

suni in the forest

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….