Tag Archives: impala

Antelopes of Nairobi National Park

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Today’s offering (after hours downloading images…..) is about the many species of antelope to be found within the various habitats of the park. These range from species represented by hundreds of individuals, to those such as these Mountain Reedbuck, of which there can only be about 20, all found in one locality in the park:in the Sosian valley.

How does a group such as this manage to survive, genetically?

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Here’s a Mountain Reedbuck doe. Difficult to photograph, these small species of buck…Notice the gland below the ear. Antelope live in a secret world of scent difficult for us to comprehend & have glands near their eyes, & between their hooves & leave subtle messages in their lavatories telling others of their kind who what why & where they are….

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The once dominant species of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem, now represented by just a few hundred animals when in years past there were thousands! At least we’ve got at least 20 more this year.Wildebeest have calved in the safety of the park owing to the on-going drought.

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The King of Antelopes, a bull eland. Mostly confined to the park these days owing to habitat loss in the dispersal area, this species is doing very well.

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A Coke’s hartebeest or kongoni, in typical stance. This species is doing so well in the park that it must be getting close to it’s maximum sustainable population. This is excellent news as elsewhere this species is in decline.

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A Bohor (where does this name originate?) reedbuck ram. Although there must have been Bohor reedbuck in the wetlands at the Eastern edge of the park historically, many have been translocated in from Western Kenya. These animals are very difficult to see & (like most small antelope) hide motionless in the vegetation as a defensive measure.

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A Mountain Reedbuck ram testing a female in oestrous.

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The best shot I have been able to get of the elusive steenbok, which live in pairs. Having no horns I assume this is a juvenile.

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The elegant bushbuck is one of the most widespread antelopes in Africa, able to live close to humans (like in my garden) if not hunted. Solitary animals, they are numerous in all the habitats of the park apart from on the plains.

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Impala are also a very adaptable & successful species, though they are water dependent.

Well over 600 in & around the park show that this species is flourishing in the park.

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A doe oribi with young. This species has been translocated into the park.Hopefully it will not compete with the duiker sp. which occur in the park (grey & bush?)

I could not get pictures of suni (which occur in the Langata forest) or dikdik, (which I have never seen in the park but which can be found along the Embakasi Gorge & in the Silole Sanctuary.) Does anybody have images of these three species? Or klipspringer?

Below is a waterbuck, which occurs both in the Langata Forest & in the Athi Basin.

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Game Count in Nairobi National Park, 1st February 2009

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On 1st of February a game count took place in the park. These figures are MINIMUMS but give a good idea of overall TRENDS in the park, which , as the dry season refuge for the Athi Kapiti ecosystem is full of migratory game right now owing to the ongoing dry cycle.

In addition, the park is getting more & more isolated & many of the species present in the park are today confined to it, owing to the ‘humanisation’ of the dispersal area.

Warthog (above) have recovered from the rinderpest outbreak that nearly wiped them out 10 years ago & can be found all over the park:they are breeding well & will provide a much needed source of food for the lions once the wet season arrives in April (hopefully!) when the zebra move out. 38 were counted.

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Buffaloes are also increasing in number in the park: 355 were counted, but no doubt there plenty more up in the Langata forest, where these grazers are concentrated right now.

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Giraffe (the Masai variety) can be very easily approached in the park & bulls often refuse to move out of the road on the approach of an oncoming vehicle.After all, they have right of way & are several times taller than any vehicle……157 were counted.This is probably close to the real population figure, giraffe being so visible & easy to count.

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Eland are a species that are going to be more & more confined to the park as it is encircled by development. A shy species, eland cannot take disturbances associated with people & need the browsing that has all but disappeared outside the park owing to habitat change &  the presence of goats.

There are several nursery herds in the park (eland calves have an intense attraction for one another) which is good news as they and their mothers are safe from meat hunters, (eland meat is particularly delicious & such big animals are very valuable to a poacher) & their dogs…….211 were counted in the game count.

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As Kenya’s premier rhino sanctuary, the rhinos will have been disturbed by the recent cattle invasions of the southern boundary. They need territory & peace & quiet to breed. 12 were counted and this probably gives a good estimation of the total, which might be twice this number (which would make 24 individuals.) The KWS given figure of 65 is erroneous……

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The gazelles are back, which is terrific news: 148 Thomson’s were counted & 94 Grant’s, which is a greater total than for many years; a vindication of the KWS policy of controlled burning, which has restored the short-grass plains habitat to the park.

Sadly the victim of too many years of no burning & during a wet cycle has been cheetahs.A single male occurs in the park: all that remains of a population which was forced to move out of the park as there were no gazelles for them to feed on…….

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I’m surprised that only 1,682 zebra were counted. They are very adaptive & are well able to move out into the humanised dispersal area in the Rains. They’re breeding this year in the park as it is so dry………….Having said this, there are STILL zebra outside on the parched  & overgrazed plains.

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632 impala were counted in the park, showing that it’s wide range of habitats is perfect for this medium sized antelope, which browses or grazes, according to the seasonal food supply.

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The very best news is that the gnu are back in the park in good numbers after many many years.203 were counted & this number should go up as the cows are calving right now: in the park for the first time that I can recall over a 10 period. Again the presence of short grass plain habitat makes all the difference to these wanderers of the plains, whose habitat has been gobbled up by the fast expanding city of Nairobi.

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Kongoni are also breeding well: 371 were counted & with a whole new generation born in (& increasingly confined to) the park, hopefully this species will adapt to staying in the park as outside is no longer suitable habitat.

Below is Ujonjo the Big Male of the park’s estimated 22 lions, of which 18 were counted. (Photo by Gareth Jones -thanks!) The lions are having a great time with so much to feed on & at least one of the 5 adult lionesses is reported pregnant.

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