IMAGES BY WILL KNOCKER…..
The Rains this year have been ok, if not dramatically good…….
The waterfall on the Mokoyeti River….
Water gets the cycle of life going at a goodly rate: fungus breaking down black rhino dung…..
An unlikely Wet Season Club at Hyena Dam…
The Spotted Thick Knees are breeding……
Grantis in the Mood…..
But some of the dams still need water…..
I flew over the ‘Dispersal Area’ today….it looks more like a suburb of Nairobi than a wildlife area….
By WILL KNOCKER:
The only way OUT of NNP is in the east of the park, near Athi River where it abuts the Sheep & Goat land, several thousand acres of short grass plain much loved by the remaining wildebeest. After heavy rain the grazers immediately ‘vote with their hooves’ & begin to move out towards the dispersal area outside the park.
Here a herd of zebra is about to cross the Empakasi River & out to the plains beyond.
On their way…..
Safely crossed to the other bank….
View of ‘The Promised Land’ on the other side of the river….
Formidable bovids, with a fearsome reputation, Cape buffaloes were introduced to NNP, where they did not (in the last 100 years) exist….
Portrait of a bull: it is true you do not want to meet one of these on foot, but the record shows that generally speaking, buffaloes are intelligent -avoiding people if they can (on the southern boundary of the park, which is unfenced) & are more like (gentle) wild cattle than the monsters familiar from hunter’s tales. If you are hunted, of course you are aggressive….
NNP now boasts close to 1,000 of these large, social grazers & they are well distributed across the Park.
The significance of this number of large grazers on the 30,000 acres of the Park is considerable.
A few months ago & grass-a normally super-abundant resource in the NNP- a part of the one of the richest grassland ecosystems in Africa-was extremely scarce. Buffaloes are particularly vulnerable to drought owing to their massive bulk.
Now the Park is a sea of long-grazing grass & the migratory sp. -mainly zebra & wildebeest, are on the short grass plains OUTSIDE the park.
The daily increasing buffalo population should have an impact on the grasslands of the Park, keeping them sweet & precluding the need for controlled burns by the Park’s managers, KWS.
And will our lions (estimated at 35-40) learn to hunt this increasing source of prey?
Typical members of a herd: cows & calves (a distinctive light brown colour) whilst bulls come & go according to the Bull Politics of the herd, where the meanest & most powerful get to mate with the cows that are in oestrous…..
Buffaloes are nearly always accompanied by very useful tickbirds (ox-peckers) as they are invariably afflicted by masses of biting ticks….
Portrait of a bachelor herd…..
A herd on the plains in the Athi Basin……
and the herd bull……..
The Rains on the Savannah brings a time of great plenty & this year this process has been quite exceptional! Guinea fowl (amongst many other sp. of birds) have been able to nest TWICE this season: look at all them chicks!
It has been raining on & off since the beginning of the year, with 6 inches in the last week alone!
The Park is a sea of grass, all the dams are full & the wetlands brimming with water…
It’s difficult to see wildlife in the long grass & the predators are hungry as much of the wildlife has migrated out of the Park…
The other day I noticed hundreds of ethereal enormous white birds wheeling into treetops on the ridge opposite the Silole Sanctuary……..NOT the usual common egrets….
Taking shelter from the storms: they stayed all night…..
Great White Pelicans…..
Hundreds of them, from the Rift Valley, investigating the huge areas of Kenya that are currently flooded….like Spirits of the Wet….
The sun comes out briefly from time to time….
Most wildlife, such as these Plains zebra, are in the Athi Basin & on the Sheep & Goat land adjacent to the Park.
Many kongoni (especially bulls on their territories) remain in the Park….Yellow -Necked francolin in the foreground.
The Lightning Bird in his element, hunting frogs…….
What on earth is this weird design?
Extraordinary neck contusion & vocally a quiet ‘click!’ then a slightly louder ‘pop’ followed by a deep mooing boom…..
A male Hartlaub’s (or Maasai -this sp. only occurs in or nearby Maasailand!) Bustard trying to impress an invisible female hidden in the grass nearby…
What do I look like from behind?
The things we do to TRY & impress…..
Photos by ROB ALLEN
The hippoes translocated in the park in recent months (see previous posts) have scattered all over the park & many of the dams have had some(or one) hippoes in them.
But the calf featured here a few weeks ago was spotted & photographed by Rob Allen & is still with Mum in the Nangolomon Dam, itself overflowing with water owing to recent rains.
No mammal in Nature puts on meat (converted from grass;hippoes are of course grazers) quicker than hippoes……
But beware:hungry lions killed one of the translocated hippoes seeking new territory a week or two ago in the Kiserian valley running into the Park.
Let us hope that this fast growing little hippo survives into the future….