Tag Archives: ostrich

Nairobi National Park Wet Season

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Although the dry cycle continues & Kenya north of Central Province is still horribly dry, in Nairobi we have had some (less than average) rain.

Unlike many parts of the country (Mara -Laikipia), the vulture population of the NNP ecosystem remains healthy. The population of White Backed vultures which nest in the park is of especial importance, but we also have visiting Griffons from the Rift Valley & at least one pair of Lappet Faced, seen in this picture…..

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Most of the large mammals (such as this bull eland) are now concentrated in the Athi Basin & on the plains of the Sheep & Goat land just to the south east of the park, though hundreds of zebra, true to their natures, have wandered farther afield.They will be back soon, because the dispersal area is terribly overgrazed & there has not been enough rain for the grasslands (in the past one of the richest rangelands in the world) to recover.

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You never know what you might come across in the park, such as this steinbok in the Athi Basin, seen clearly in the background…

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The breeding season for ostrich is here again (July/August) & the cocks are red-necked with excitement. In this picture is a flock of last year’s chicks,now yearlings. NNP has the highest density of wild ostrich in Africa……

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The most wary (could we deduce the most intelligent) of the antelopes- eland- have sensibly decided not to leave the park this year: there is simply nowhere for them TO go & they run a very high risk of being hunted for meat outside the park….

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NNP is a quite exraordinarily diverse bit of country, given it’s small size (120 square kilometres.) As well as protecting classic savannah plains & dry highland forest & several river valleys, in the wet season, after rain, tiny intricate little wetlands occur such as this pool in the Athi Basin. A whole little aquatic cycle of life plays out with the existence of life giving water until the equatorial sun reasserts itself……

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The big cats are doing well & we have 3 known cheetah in NNP, including a female with a single cub. Here is the scarey male – he’s a survivor- & you can see why: look at the industrial conurbation adjacent to the plains which are his home. The last of the Athi Plains, now surrounded by a humanised landscape.

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The Athi Plains were home to coutless thousands of gazelles in the past, including Grantis like these, whom the Maasai call “oloibor siadi” -the white behinds. You can  clearly see why in this picture. Gazelles are more & more moving back into the park, which now , in this dry cycle, contains their preferred short-grass plain habitat. But they have to be aware of the one animal faster even than they:cheetah.

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NNP is an island of biodiversity showing what the Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem really is, now surrounded by overgrazed &  environmentally degraded & increasingly urbanised plains on all sides. The last habitat, therefore, for these Jackson’s whydahs, respendent in their breeding plumage. This species is dependent on long grass, where the males create dancing grounds where they bob up & down a couple of feet at each jump- an extraordinary sight – in order to attract the females!

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