Visitor Experience at NNP

By Will Knocker:

Fifty USD is a lot of money in anybody’s book & for overseas tourists visiting the Park, the authorities (KWS) should ensure that they are getting Bang for their Buck.

Left to itself, Nairobi NationalPark cannot fail to amaze, it’s catalogue of wonders too diverse to go into here (just scroll down for more details..) and of course it is Kenya’s foremost Rhino Sanctuary and as such, deserves all the protection it can get.

BUT….is it worth sacrificing visitor experience (for it is visitors that ultimately pay the bills here) for wildlife protection & the need for round-the-clock vigilance against rhino killers?

I throw this question out there for users of the Park to debate.

As a Guide in the Park, my visitors are regularly disappointed by seeing rangers on patrol & ugly structures in the otherwise pristine Park.

As for the pylons in the Athi Basin……… that was a fait accompli…..


What is this tent for & why is it located right next to a major crossroads in the Park?


A rhino was spotted running away from this group of patrolling rangers…


KWS need some lessons on Park aesthetics & what visitors pay for in a National Park (answer: wild landscapes, undisturbed wildlife & no people..)


Not what you expect to see when entering NNP from East Gate..


Outpost at Eland Hollow, out on the pristine African Plain….


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….

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 !

Short Rains Indeed….

By Will Knocker:


The Short Rains have proved to be very short indeed in NNP, although in the last few days the Langata Forest will have greened up with some decent rain to begin December…


Gazelles are plentiful in the park now, as it is so dry & overgazed in the Sheep & Goat land, on the short grass plains where they like to be…. what happened to these cheetahs , KWS, could you not bring them here now gazelles are so plentiful?


Owing to the incipient drought, hundreds of cattle are in the park day & night, displacing precious Browse rhinos from their habitat…


The City on the Plain….


Many sp. of mammal have given birth, expecting plenty of food from the rainy season… will these new youngsters fare in the challenging conditions of drought which will carry on until our next rains in April??



Spur-Wing Geese Breed in NNP!

Report by Brian Finch, Pics by Will Knocker:


Some two months ago there was a pair of Spur-winged Geese
here that stayed for several weeks, looking at home and it was hoped
that they would breed.


Suddenly from under the bank three large orange-headed ducklings swam
out into the water-lilies, and a Red-billed Teal swam out to join


I am sure that this is a first
breeding record of the species in not just the Park but all of Nairobi


In fact to take it further, I cannot personally ever recall
seeing Spur-winged goslings before…. anywhere!




By Will Knocker:

A Black rhino bull browses in Nairobi National Park yesterday at dusk. Blacks, or more accurately Browse rhinos are often most active at night…..

These are our indigenous East African Blacks (Diceros bicornis michealii) of which about 700 remain on the planet, mostly here in Kenya…..

And one of the ‘best’ & safest Sanctuaries has been Nairobi National Park, where the scattered remnants of the rhino population, decimated to less than five hundred in the Seventies, were able to find peace & security…

Since then the population increase enabled many rhinos to be translocated elsewhere, to newer sanctuaries, with varying success….

With the current poaching onslaught (horn is now one of the most valuable commodities on earth thanks to human greed & ignorance) NNP remains the vital core of Kenya’s efforts to conserve these magnificent pachyderms….

In the nineteenth century, there were hundreds of thousands of rhinos in Kenya. Let us ensure that rhinos have the space to be themselves: huge, powerful mega-herbivores, wonderful, inspriring life-forms……

Rhino cow & calf from my sitting room window at where you might see them on foot if you are unlucky……

Yet another reason to celebrate our magnificent Nairobi National Park!

NNP Dispersal Area

Photos & Story by Will Knocker:

The dispersal area for nairobi National Park is being severely overgrazed by livestock, partly due to rangeland loss to developments.

The dispersal area is severely overgrazed by livestock, partly owing to rangeland loss to development.

The Last Wildebeest? The Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem, of which the Park & dispersal area are the northern park, was once one of the world’s richest grassland ecosystems: it is estimated to provide a home for 100,000 wildebeest. We counted 2 bulls out on the plains at Sholingei..

Looking east down the Kitengela river valley; a major ‘mlango’ for wilflife to move to Top Plains at Sholingei; this is a humanised landscape not suitable even for passage by large grazers.

Heliotrope flowers in bloom where grass no longer grows….

Roads gouged out of the good earth by the stone trucks serving the quarries that take up the river valleys in the dispersal area, ceaselessly removing tons of blocks of stone with which to build the city of Nairobi & particularly the fast growing dormitory towns of Ongata Rongai & Kitengela (in picture.)

“Community Land”? This is government land: the old livestock holding ground for Athi River. It is now used for grazing by local herders, but permanent settlements there (of which there are quite a few) are illegal. At least the herders stop the area from being built over by the fast-growing Kitengela township…….& pastoralism is of course very compatible with wildlife as far as land-use is concerned.

When the park lions venture onto the ‘Sheep & Goat Land’ as this essential bit of the dispersal area is called, it is a very different story: if they kill livestock, there is a major conflict of interest & they will be killed in retribution……

New (built last year) temporary (there is no one living there now) homestead designed to hold livestock to illegally graze in the park during dry spells.

Giraffe in the block of the Park across the Empakasi, adjacent to Sheep & Goat Land

The breeding herd of eland across the river: the instincts of this highly migratory species tell them to move out of the Park; but they have nowhere to go…….

If we do not take the Sheep & Goat land seriously, we might lose the last few gnu we have in NNP…..

The amazing Athi Basin, where all “the migrants” go to after rain…..thankfully, sp. such as kongoni now stay in the Park & their population is increasing by leaps & bounds: elsewhere in Africa, all hartebeest are in steep decline wherever there are cattle (with whom they compete) & therefore overgrazed rangelands, which is not hartebeest habitat…

The dispersal area across the river is vital to NNP & ESPECIALLY TO WILDEBEEST: this is where they live & calve…..

Suburban wildebeest: the pressure is on for this species, both in the Park & in the rest of the Athi-Kapiti Ecosystem…..(remember there used to be 100,000…….!!!!)

The Dispersal Area is riddled with quarries & the air filled with the blasting of dynamite…..the plains of the Athi-Kapiti are , below a miniscule layer of earth, are in fact solid rock!

Tuala, a typical frontier town where land speculation is the main activity: the plains of the Dispersal Area is being rapidly parcelled out: townships & suburban areas will completely encircle the Park within, I would estimate, 10 years…..

For reference:

One idea: if a part of the northern bit of the Park is to be excised to make way for the Southern Bypass, as seems likely, can the authorities not look to formalise the Sheep & Goat Land as an integral part of NNP, forever??















Feral Dog Problem Threatens Newborn Antelopes



The beautiful & important Athi Basin (where wildlife comes in & out of the park) is sadly currently a hunting ground for feral dogs from the nearby townships of Kitengela & Athi River….


The bitch above (who obviously has pups somewhere nearby) was nuzzling at some old bones (she was starving!) just yards away from a hidden, recently born impala calf.

Antelopes which hide their newborn young include eland, the 2 sp. of gazelle & impala & all these are threatened by feral dogs, of which we have seen packs of up to 12 individuals in the Athi Basin.

If the many predators in the area are unable to deal with these ecological pests which threaten this year’s generation of young, are KWS not able to shoot them?

And what will happen when the last few wildebeest in NNP drop their calves in March?