Jackals of NNP

By Will Knocker:

Of the 3 species of jackals, versatile wild canids, in Kenya, the Black or Silver Backed jackal is the most easily seen in Nairobi National Park.

A few years ago, there were very few of these cute canids in the Park, but their numbers seem to be increasing.


A female (methinks) of a family group which lives opposite Ololo Lodge..


I recently saw a lone Golden jackal in the company of a pair of Silverbacks in the Athi Basin…


Jackals are very efficient scavengers, but also hunt rodents, birds & other opportunistic meals…


The male of the pair (?) Jackals mate for life…


Jackals in NNP are threatened by the thousands of feral dogs which live in the humanised areas surrounding the Park, which carry diseases (canine distemper, rabies) against which the former have no immunity.

Long Live these wonderful little (wild) dogs….

Jackals in NNP

By Will Knocker:


Black-backed jackals have not been a common sight in NNP in the last ten years.


These delightful little wild canids were feared to have been decimated by domestic dog diseases. The Park, surrounded as it is by the city of Nairobi & it’s suburbs (containing thousands of domestic dogs), certainly does not seem a good place for these fascinating (& difficult to photograph) animals..


But in recent years their numbers have shot up: testament to the extraordinarily large biomass in the Park, where wildlife has nowhere else to live.



At one time, a few years ago the, Park was down to just one breeding female of this sp. after another was run over by a speeding visitor..


Off they go…there were 5 in this family group, whose noctournal yelping “Kwe…Kwe…” I can hear from my home in the Silole Sanctuary just outside the Park….

NNP in the Wet Season….

By Will Knocker:


Early morning impala…


White (or Grass) rhinos are doing well in the Park: they were introduced from Nakuru NP


Native Black (or Browse) rhinos in their element…


There are 40+ lions in NNP, amongst which are at least 6 adult males, all of them brothers…


Could this be a Green-winged Pytilia?


Four Black-backed jackals on the remains of a lion-kill in the Athi Basin…


Spot the difference between a Tommy & Grantis…..


There have never been so many bufffaloes in the ParK; helping to naturally manage the grasslands….


The Park is a veritable ocean of long grass interspersed with wild flowers: absolutely beautiful…..


















Awesome Day in the Park!

Story & pics by WILL KNOCKER:

On wednesday this week, Ed & Jeremy Hildebrand & I spent all day in the Park in superb weather & saw the best that the constantly surprising NNP has to offer….. first, these rhinos, note the bull on the right marking his territory with a horizontal blast of pee…

Early morning along the Empakasi was like a Vision of Eden…..

Then we came across this nursey herd of eland (calves suckle from any lactating female they find, an adaption to the nomadic way of life of these antelopes, who are constantly on the move.) NNP contains one of the most significant herds of eland in Kenya & the population is rising…

We definitely had a rhino day: we saw several unusual herds of Black (Browse) rhinos at close quarters….

We stopped for coffee at the Athi Dam, where zebra were watering & this kongoni posed for us. The kongoni population in NNP is exploding, bucking the trend in the rest of Kenya, where this sp. is in steep decline..

A spiral of large raptors brought us to this dramatic site: a kill…..

Ant the perpetrator, a stuffed lioness….

A pair of jackals tried to drive off the estimated 80 vultures gathered for the feast: an eland….but were ignored…..

But all soon moved off at the ‘owner’ returned to protect her kill….

There was masses of ‘plains game’ in the Athi Basin & on the top plains, where we found these zebra twins….

The Rains have not been good so far & so most biomass is in the park owing to overgrazing in the rangelands where they usually go at this time of year. The return of both Gran’ts & Thomson’s gazelles to the Park after many years of a ‘long grass’ regime is heartening. But where are the cheetah?

Ostriches under a big blue sky….

Proved to be a group with an adolescent chick: the last survivor (there is very heavy mortality amongst young ostriches…)

Then clever Ed spotted no less than six Black backed jackals: a pair of adults & four grown up cubs: great news for these little canids, which are not common in NNP…..

A bull Grass (White) rhino…..was this the individual translocated from the Mara after all his companions were killed?

As usual the Park was A1 for birds……this is a Superb starling, though we also saw the aptly named Hildebrandt’s……

And yet another bull rhino……

This was all BEFORE lunch, when we returned to Silole Cottage, where these piggies were enjoying a cooling wallow.

In the afternoon, yet more (Browse) rhinos…..

And in the Langata forest, Jeremy spotted this pair of magnificent Bateleurs, the only pair in the Park!!

And on our way home, in the distance, a new baby rhino…we couldn’t make out which type….

What a day! What a Park!









Ma’s Luck

Your writer was taught ‘safari’ by his mother, now 85, who stopped by for a run in the Nairobi National Park last saturday on her way to Tanzania……


First we came across Ujonjo at the top of the Mokoyeti valley


He proceeded to bellow -the first time that Ma had seen a lion roaring


Down the road we met a second male, whom I believe to be Ujonjo’s son…here he is listening to Ujonjo roaring whereupon he responded with his own  full-bodied bellow, which echoed up & down the valley. Truly awesome, to use an over-used word…..


‘Son of Ujonjo’ -any names out there? -in the Mokoyeti valley


We then moved to the Athi Basin & the Athi Dam, magical in the early morning light.


Herds of zebra & gnu were coming to drink along with noisy Yellow throated sandgrouse making their distinctive ‘tirikoko’ calls: which is why the Maasai call them……..tirikoko…….


Black backed jackals are uncommon in the park (one of the few females was recently killed by a speeding vehicle) so it was more Ma’s Luck to find this pair: these animals pairs for life……


Next up was the splendid sight of thousands of zebra in the valley between Eland Hollow & the East Gate junction, along with masses of other plains sp. -see in the background below


And these 5 White rhinos…..


Last of all, we found yet another maned lion, this one consorting with a lioness close to the milling herds near Eland Hollow.

What a day! What a park!



Black backed jackals -of which we have just the one sp. in NNP -although Side-striped jackals occur elsewhere in the Nairobi area (I have never seen the latter in NNP) -are uncommon in the park.


Why should this be, because NNP is a classic savannah park, with all the habitat & prey one would think would make it ideal for these canines? Plenty of rodents (servals -see last post-do well) & plains game would seem to provide plenty of fodder for jackals, pushed out of many parts of Kenya by habitat (& prey) loss & the presence of domestic dogs……



Perhaps it is canine distemper that keeps these elegant little carnivores to such small numbers in NNP.

Another theory is predation by leopards, given that this sp. enjoys eating the local dogs so much…….


Whatever the reason, let us hope that the recent/ongoing drought provides plenty of food & ideal breeding conditions for these increasingly uncommon canines, always a delight to see in NNP…..