By Will Knocker:


NNP has one of the most significant herds of eland in the country.


We have perfect eland habitat with plenty of seasonal grazing & browsing, in a variety of habitats from semi-desert scrub to dry afromontane forest.


Eland have huge ranges, however and our herd is now confined to the 130 square kilometre Park and surrounding buffer zones and conservancies.

The SGR railway is about to punch through this haven for elands and so many other creatures. Will they survive going into the future?


The eland: the largest of African antelopes: perfectly adapted to survive in harsh African conditions, is now reduced to a few thousand individuals in Kenya.





“Bull Eland Trotting” by Lavinia Grant.

These magnificent creatures deserve space: let us give it to them?









Dikdiks of Silole

By Will Knocker:


Dikdiks are fairly uncommon antelopes in NNP, but can be found in the Athi Basin towards the old Cheetah Gate, in their favoured habitat of dry scrub, where they can find concealment & low-lying browse..


In the Silole Sanctuary (adjoining the Park at Masai Gate) these tiny delicate browsers are common: these images, including this female, were taken in my garden.


Whilst photographing the dikdiks,  a pair of Spotted Morning Thrushes came to serenade us…


Here is the male…


Notice the pre-orbital scent glands in front of the eyes, used for marking territories: scent is all important to these tiny creatures.





A Genetic Conundrum: Reedbuck in NNP

By Will Knocker:


A young female Mountain reedbuck.

The  NNP  population of this uncommon antelope (30-40 individuals max) poses the question: how is genetic viability ensured in such a small population?


Adult female..


This population has existed from the 1960’s up until the present on the rocky upper reaches of the Sosian Valley.

A second species of reedbuck (Bohor) is more plentiful & widespread elsewhere in the Park.




Incomparable NNP

By Will Knocker:

Apologies for paucity of updates recently, but am now back in the saddle…

The Park is looking amazing this year after record rains in April May & June.

Yesterday I took a turn around the Park & this is what I found:


Dawn in the Park is always the best time for me…


I found 3 lions: 2 lionesses & a male asleep after the night’s activity asleep at the bottom of the Sosian valley


A Browse rhino in it’s natural habitat..


And a separate bull at closer quarters…


A cow hippo at Athi dam (notice her calf in the water.)

Sadly she is grazing on the dreaded Parthenium weed which is taking over the area…& Nairobi.


Athi Dam: my favourite place….


A ‘tirikoko’ (Maa): a Yellow-bellied sandgrouse


There are hundreds, if not thousands of impala in the Park.

Gazelles, without any space to wander outside the Park, are also increasing in number..



Kongoni (a species in steep decline elsewhere owing to competition with cattle: this is a species evolved to living in long-grass environments) are increasing in numbers in NNP.


Amazingly well-adapted & intelligent Plains zebras are now in the Park in their thousands.

They DO go out of the Park, but it is increasingly dangerous owing to the Bushmeat trade.

Better to stay in the Park in spite of the danger from lions…


It is mating season for Masai ostriches, of which there are masses in the Park: we hope for plenty of chicks in September/October…


The Ngong Hills from the Park: this is Big Sky country..


Plenty of grazers in the ocean of grass this year: outside in the pockets of ‘dispersal area’,  once super-productiver rangelands like these have been converted into a Man-made desert….


At Eland Hollow, I came across 3 lionesses & 5 large cubs watching the lines of zebra filing into drink…


Learning to watch………and wait…..


Nairobi Before & After….


At lease there is some competition for the skyscrapers!


NNP remains an amazing & precious & incomparable wildlife area,

full of Nature’s marvellous evolved bounty.





Great Gnews from NNP

Pictures by Alexandra Spyratos:


This is an Eastern White Bearded wildebeest, of which there are once estimated to have been 100,000 in the Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem of which Nairobi National Park is a part…

According to

there were still 90,000 or so of this Kenyan sub-species of gnu in existence in the late 1990’s.

However, estimates of Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest indicate a steep decline in the subspecies’ populations to a current level of perhaps 6,000-8,000 animals. Apart from NNP, the other haven for this sub-species is the Shompole Conservancy.


For many years now, there have been about  250 individuals in the Park & the fast-dwindling dispersal area to the South.


It has been a dry year in Kajiado generally & especially in the  intensively grazed Sheep & Goat Land which these short-grass plain grazers like & many wildebeest have moved into the Park  with the rain of recent days.


The fantastic news is that the photographer & I counted 450 individuals, many of them young yearlings: the NNP population is INCREASING & will continue to do so in the future given the massive grazing pressure on the Park  nowadays: gone are the days when one had to consider burning the Park to manage the grazing: innumerable buffaloes, zebra, kongoni & cattle are seeing to that: the days of grass as a super-abundant resource are well & truly over…


Waterbuck in NNP


By Will Knocker:


Common  waterbuck in Nairobi National Park: not a numerous species in what is a predominantly savannah park…


There are two separate populations in the park: in the Athi Basin & to the West, in the Langata Forest.


The latter population (in the Langata Forest, which is ideal habitat) is definitely increasing: could this be because lions prefer the grasslands of the Athi Basin, where there are more prey animals (including waterbuck?)


A fine male….


Nairobi National Park boasts no less than 16 sp. of antelope: what a refuge for these beautiful ungulates.



On the Athi Plains

By Will Knocker:


Is there a better place to be than on the African Plain?


On the Athi Plain in particular where grass is a super-abundant resource….


NNP & what is left (very little) of the dispersal area is home to a herd of 4000 Plains zebra…


and 18 species of Bovidae (buffalo & antelopes..)



And all this in a city of 5 million H. sapiens………WOW !


By Will Knocker:



A female bushbuck in it’s element in one of the many diverse habitats in Nairobi National Park, where it is common.




Although common (the most widespread antelope sp. in Africa) bushbuck are solitary creatures & usually difficult to spot (apart from in NNP!)



They can live easily near people, although they are widely hunted for their meat outside protected areas.




As shown here, if not persecuted, they can be very tolerant of people (this image actually from Aberdares NP)



The beautiful bushbuck is easily bayed up by pursuing dogs, but hopefully not in the protected areas of Nairobi National Park.

More info:    http: //





Thirsty Herds

By Will Knocker:


It looks like the Rains have failed in Southern Kenya & the Park is getting very dry, causing the  wildebeest population (c.250 animals) to come into the Park proper from the Sheep & Goat land across the Empakasi.


Eastern White-bearded Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus). This is a rare sub-species of gnu which consists of less than 5000 individuals East of the Rift Valley. In this respect Nairobi National Park is a very important haven for these creatures.



Plains zebra watering at the Athi dam.


Zebra & gnu in the Athi Basin.


Gravel pits become useful water points in dry years like this.


A wet August was not great for nesting ostriches, but these guys seem to be alright. Sadly very heavy mortality  amongst young ostrich means that almost certainly these chicks will be eaten!