Tag Archives: Nairobi National Park

White Rhino Calf Update

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Mother & calf doing well, although Paula watched lions stalking them a day or two ago……

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These grazing megaherbivores are so very different in looks & temperament to the resident black rhinos, which remain shy & elusive….

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Forgive this rather blurry image of our young star….

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Is it a he or a she :could some expert enlighten us – or a cold Tusker for the first correct answer……

Cheetahs are Back!!

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I know this is a tiny little image, but it is a real symbol of hope for the future of the Nairobi National Park. Here is a mother & cub cheetah, the first birth and/or sighting in the park for many years, recorded & photographed by Dave McKelvie.

This picture illustrates a new reality:after many years of a wet cycle in the weather & in the abscence of controlled burns, short grass plain habitat disappeared in the park, together with the  gazelles & gnus which live in such areas.

Since the end of 2007 & the beginning of controlled burning in the park, together with an extended dry cycle that still continues & with the complete overgrazing, in this drought situation, of the dispersal area outside the park & the consequent influx of cattle into the park to compete for grazing with the thousands of migratory herbivores which had taken refuge there, all excess grazing has been severely reduced.

This complete change in circumstances have seen the last of the gnu in the ecosystem come back into the park (they calved in the park this year for the first time in living memory), together with hundreds of Grants & Thomsons gazelles:food for cheetahs….

Apologies for the tiny photo- it’s all I could manage after hours of trying to post….

New Male Lion in Nairobi National Park?

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Is this the face of a new dominant male in amongst the lions of Nairobi National Park?

For the last couple of years the single pride that exists in the park has been dominated by Ujonjo, a dark-maned adult male in his prime. Other males are younger & are probably Ujonjo’s sons or young brothers.One is distinctive in that he has a kinked tail.

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Lion genetics are of great importance,because as recently as 2005 there were only 6 adult lions in total in the park, which included but one adult male. Now we are in the happy position of having at least 2 adult males competing for the attentions of the adult lionesses amongst the estimated 24 (25 if you count the subject of this blog..) lions in the park today.

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One possibility is that the lion population is fragmenting into the 2 separate prides that traditionally held sway in the park. The average population of lions has historically been about 30, so we are getting up close to that healthy figure.

The question remains as to the identity of the tawny maned stranger. Is he a grown up youngster (he certainly doesn’t look like it) or is it possible that he has come in from the fast shrinking & nowadays thoroughly humanised dispersal area outside the park?

Can anybody out there shed light on this question?

In the meantime, here is the new boy on the block, marking his territory.

Photos by park  & lion afficianado Rob Allen. Thanks Rob!

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Getting Drier……..

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With no sign of rain on the horizon, things in the Nairobi National Park are getting ever drier. Most of the smaller dams are drying up & water is becoming an issue for the thousands of head of herbivores in the park.Eland Hollow has been dry for a year now & the 2 dams at the East Gate junction are about to dry up. Even the huge Athi Basin dam is as low as I have ever seen it & as a reservoir for the thousands of cattle which have grazed the Athi Basin into short grass plain, will it empty?

Above is Karen Primary School Dam. Notice last year’s yearling wildebeest drinking & the vultures drinking & bathing…

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Kongoni (Coke’s Hartebeest) are in sharp decline throughout their range. According to new research, they are adapted to living on coarse (unburnt) grassland. Will they adapt to the new regime of short grass over much of the park?

With so many kongoni in the park, there is plenty of argy-bargy amongst the bulls, defending their territories (see pic below.)

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Here’s a fine portrait of a vulture -white backed or Ruppell’s -could a reader enlighten me? Like all creatures in the park, incredibly approachable & therefore easy to photograph..

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A flying kongoni, a bull chasing a rival….

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A snoozing saddlebill stork -male or female anyone? -patiently waiting for the rains & the reinvigoration of the park’s wetlands which are this species’ habitat.

Below a pair of Plains Zebra, with the Ngong Hills in the background.

The GOOD NEWS is that the long dry spell (3 seasons long so far) should soon be over as the ITCZ moves north over Kenya  & gives us vital RAIN…..

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Dry cycle

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Here’s to a great 2009 for Nairobi national Park & readers of this blog.

It’s very dry in Nairobi (& indeed in central & eastern Kenya generally) & the Park is coming into it’s own in it’s traditional role as a dry season refuge for grazers, both wild & domestic. Most of the grazers in the dispersal area are now in the park, including our 3,000 estimated zebra population , good numbers of kongoni (c.600), a similar number of eland & close to 300 gnu, who are thriving on the dessicated short-grass plain characteristic of most of the park at present.

It’s a good time to be a lion in NNP, with our estimated 22 lions in good shape owing to plentiful prey. Here’s a great shot by local lion fanatic Gareth Jones.

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The lions are often found near the fast-diminishing water points, such as the Empakasi Dam, seen here with a mob of thirsty zebra.

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Judging by the water level of the Athi Dam, it might dry up this year, for the first time that I can remember! Luckily in the park we have several spring-fed dams that are very unlikely to dry up. Notice the wildebeest.

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Masai cattle (c.1000) are also grazing in the park day & night despite intermittent KWS efforts to keep them out. Impossible when there is zero grazing outside the park.

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NNP is the best place in the world for ostriches & they do very well in the dry, needing minimal water. They have bred very well this year (see above) & lions are eating quite a few of the less wary….

Meanwhile high mortality rates in these dry conditions mean bonanza times for scavengers, such as these vultures. Every cloud has a silver lining for some!

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NNP Leopards

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Leopards are famously elusive & those that live in & around NNP are no exception.

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Having said that we may say that chui do well in the diverse habitats of the park, with it’s rocky river gorges, forests & savannah. Here there is a wide selection of possible food, ranging from plump rock hyraxes to rodents & fully grown antelope of various species.

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Leopards regularly prowl on the mabati roof of my house & recently 3 adults were seen from the verandah of Silole Villa (presumably 2 grown up cubs & their mother.)

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Here are some great photographs of some of our leopards by Dave McKelvie, a great afficianado of the park & perhaps especially of it’s big cats……