Lions Doing Well in NNP

By Will Knocker


We came across this lioness (collared poor thing: why?) with 3 cubs just below the Olomanyi Dam: the naughty cubs followed her when she needed to go hunting: they were unceremoniously taken back by the scruff of the neck (the other 2 cubs followed behind…)


Then in March we came across this mating pair at the top of the Athi Basin: more cubs to come?


Just what is the relationship between these adult lions?

The genetics of the NNP lions not great: inbreeding, but KWS unwilling or unable to do anything about it…..

Nonetheless the Park is a Lion’s Paradise, with a huge biomass & as much wildlife as a lion can eat.


Yesterday (Sunday 26) at dawn we came across a lioness in the Olomanyi valley trotting along with a purpose: she doubled back up the hill as though looking for something…..another adult lioness !


They met up with much purring & rubbing of faces & then out of the (very dry) scrub came 4 sub-adult lions: 1 male & 3 females & again a huge reunion: a delight to watch…They all headed off into the kichaka at the valley bottom .


These giraffes nearby were almost as surprise as we were to see this wonderful Lion Reunion !

There are estimated to be 35 -40 lions in the Nairobi National Park, some adult males of which we could hear roaring last night (26/3) hear at Silole…


Lion Cubs in NNP

By Will Knocker Pics by Margy Scott:



A week or two ago, visitors & I came across Lady Leonie in the Mokoyeti valley..


And what did she have with her?


Too sweet for words, though the little cub doesn’t look too healthy: mortality amongst lion cubs is very high..


Vultures: for which NNP is one of the most important breeding & feeding habitat in the country, await their turn


Lady Leonie was on a buffalo kill, though whether she killed it alone or not was not clear..


This was the lioness driven into the flooding Mokoyeti river by thoughtless tourists trying to get closer to her to film..


She tries (& fails) to drag the buffalo carcass into a more unobtrusive spot..

In spite of the recent lion losses (Lemek & Mohawk) there are still plenty of lions in NNP…

Long may this be the case! Long Live NNP!









By Will Knocker:


Mohawk as a young lion…2009…


Portrait of a lion: there are quite a few adult male lions in NNP: they compete,even though they are brothers…


Lion life,especially perhaps for males, tends to be nasty,brutish & short in the wild…


The original adult male after the killings of lions in 2005 brought the numbers down to just 5…father of all lions in the Park now: Ujonjo in the Silole Sanctuary 2010



In the prime of Life, with his distinctive mane…




Mohawk in his natural habitat: the sad Reality is that lions which leave the safety of NNP will be lost in the surrounding city & killed…He was chased out by his (dominant) brothers & went to find happier hunting grounds…


The Spirit of Mohawk lives on…there are less than 2000 lions in Kenya & about 20,000 ONLY in the whole of Africa:

Our lions are very precious…


Lions should be wild & free, because that is what they symbolise for us humans; the King of Beasts…


There is a MAJOR problem with lion genetics in NNP: all the lions are related & male lions, unlike in a wild, natural setting, are unable to get in & out of the Park, so KWS should bring in males from the outside: Nakuru NP would be an ideal ‘swopping area’ as it is fenced, like NNP & the males can get neither in nor out…

Recent research sadly shows that the only places in Africa where lion numbers are stable or increasing is in fenced Protected Areas (Packer et al 2010) so intense genetic management is a must,alas….


RIP Mohawk ….


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.





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…..


















A Day in the Park 17th Jan

By Will Knocker:


I was woken up by this Variable Sunbird (male of course) fighting with himself in my bedroom window…..


And at Main Gate, my guest Jess & I got caught up in the early morning circus: 2 male lions rubbing themselves in a buffalo pat!


The 2 males: looking thin: c’mon guys, you are supposed to be Super Predators & the Park is full of Prey!


A Blacksmith plover….


Kanga……Guinea-fowl have done well this year, with many grown chicks evident….


Chandler’s Mountain reedbuck in the Sosian valley….


A Yellowneck spurfowl with a runny beak….


And 2 African spoonbills………spoooning…….


Athi Dam megacroc getting some dirty looks…..


Lone bushbuck……(called Abu Naba in Arabic…any Arabic speakers out there?)


As Jess said “wall-to-wall” zebras in the Athi Basin, where wildlike is concentrated at present….


Upupa epops, the African hoopoe…what a lovely bird!


And to end a splendid day in the incomparable NNP: a monitor lizard at Nangolomon Dam (it should be Narok Omom): “Black Head” in Maa, referring to the Langata forest…..


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!