Tag Archives: black rhino

White Rhinos Come to NNP

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In historical times, white rhinos did not exist in Kenya: they were reduced to two tiny populations -the northern subspecies to Uganda,Sudan & Northern Congo (Garamba) & the southern subspecies to Zululand thanks to the efforts of one man, B.Vaughan Kirby.

As I write this the Northern subspecies is on the virge of extinction unless there is a BVK in Congo….the last few individuals in Garamba are under threat by Sudanese poachers & the LRA.

The Southern type does much better & having been brought in from South Africa some years ago, have been doing well in the various rhino sanctuaries in Kenya:Lewa,Solio & Nakuru National Park.

Now, we are going to have 10 of these fabulous beasts in Nairobi Park.

Five are already here, as these pictures, courtesy of Paolo Torchio, show.

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These are LARGE animals. Here’s one in reverse gear. Wide mouths & muscular rubbery lips are adapted to the grazing of short grass, apparently in short supply in drought affected Nakuru National Park from where these animals were translocated.

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Whilst one would not like to get in the way, white rhinos are fairly placid in comparison to the belligerent black rhinos….

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A cow & calf move off into the rangelands of the park, where territories (marked by bulls) are not yet scent-marked out by dung ‘scuffs’ & urine spraying….hope they do not wander OUT of the park. Scent is of enormous importance to rhinos…..

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A huge cow, battered but unbowed by her journey, free again in the rangelands where white rhinos  roamed for millenia until hunted out by man. Rock paintings by prehistoric men show white rhinos then occurred all over Africa, including in what is now the Sahara Desert….

Two photos above by WK.

Drought Crisis

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Apologies for not posting for so long:school holidays & power cuts in Nairobi owing to the drought we are currently enduring.

The only winners in this situation are the scavengers, who are doing extremely well.

The fact is that Nairobi National Park has been invaded by thousands of head of hungry cattle from the overgrzed & drought stricken rangelands to the south.

What are the effects of this? Firstly, the grass resource of the park, which includes the last remaining pristine (?) corner of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem, one of the richest grassland habitats in the world, has been grazed to the point of degradation by hordes of cattle. At this time of the year & in these exceptional dry conditions, all of the grazers in the ecosystem are also in the park:about 3,000 zebra, 1,000 wildebeest, 800 hartebeest & 600 eland, not to mention the resident rhinos (35?), buffaloes (1000) giraffe & the many different species of antelope (12 sp. in total.)

All of these creatures have suffered from this cattle invasion. Ostrich (NNP has the densest population of wild ostrich anywhere) have not nested this year;presuably displaced by the thousands of head of cattle grazing illegally at night. 2 rhinos are reported as having died due to “anthrax” -unlikely for a browsing species-much more probable is that these were males killed by territorial fighting as the rhinos have been squeezed into the areas of the park ungrazed by cattle, such as in the Langata forest.

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Tourists in the battered tourist industry (wholly dependent on the network of “protected” areas “managed” by KWS) are paying 40$ a time to see sites such as this & forlorn herds of abandoned cattle in the overgrazed, cowpat littered park.

More serious is the health risk posed by carcasses of cattle left on riverbanks such as the Empakasi River shown here, whose toxic juices drain into a water source used by thirsty people downstrem at a time of acute water stress.

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Anthrax, foot & mouth disease & East Coast Fever (ol tikana n Maa) are all reported in the herds of cattle coming to graze in the park, not all of which belong to suffering pastoralists, who are in crisis in this horile year. It is reported by KWS that many of these cattle belong to rich folk:prominent Kenyans & politicians…..

Here is the body of a dead impala -IN the river…..

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Many parts of the park stink with many carcasses of starved/diseased cattle littering the dusty plains.

Litter is never collected in the park by those who manage it, who concentrate on revenue collection……this cattle has been eating plastic, which is an eye sore & a major health risk to the grazing animals in the park.

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Whlist most illegal grazing happens at night, in the eastern part of the park close to Athi River, hundreds of cattle graze openly on the plains.

Notice the Athi Dam, which threatens to dry up completely this season…..

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KWS seem unwilling or unable to keep cattle out of the park.

Yesterday (Wednesday 26th August) KWS moved in 4 white rhino into Nairobi National Park from Nakuru National Park. (6 more are to be translocated in during the coming weeks, to make a total of 10.) Is this sensible when 2 BLACK rhinos have died of anthrax, a bacteria which lives in the ground & is dispersed in dry conditons?

White rhinos are of course GRAZING animals, very susceptible to anthrax spores…..

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Game Count April 5th

Apologies for the delay in passing on these figures:I have been away in the NFD (sadly little but ostriches, grantis & a few gerenuk to report from there….)

The following figures are significant because they represent most of the large mammals currently to be found in the Nairobi National Park & environs. Most of all species were in the park looking for grazing and/or water in the midst of a nasty drought which has now, thankfully, broken.

The question remains: where are the 300 odd eland, the 700 odd kongoni & the 1,000 gnu here counted going to go now? (The 3000 zebra are better adapted to living out on the humanised Athi Plains that is the dispersal area nowadays)

The fact is that they are going to have to adapt to living in what is an increasinly encircled Nairobi National Park……

Count was conducted by KWS & FONNAP:

Buffalo 372

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Bushbuck 7

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Dikdik 10 (the counters have misidentified suni -a dwarf forest antelope- here….)

Duiker 1

Eland 281

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Grants gazelle 246

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Thomsons gazelle 417

Giraffe 123

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Kongoni (Hartebeest) 675

Steinbok 2

Waterbuck 20

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Wildebeest 989

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Warthog 62

Impala 502

Black rhino 6

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Zebra 3071

Baboon 71

Vervet monkey 37

Spotted hyena 6

Silver backed jackal 2

Lion 2

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Serval 1

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Ostrich 94