Mbweha!

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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.

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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……

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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…….

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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…..

Leopards in NNP

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Last week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Yumi, a zoologist from Kyoto University researching leopards in NNP, specifically looking at the conservation of these elusive cats & at interaction between leopards & people in the extraordinary periurban situation that is Nairobi National Park.

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Yumi trapped & collared 2 female leopards in the park in January this year & has been trying to keep up with them through radio signals & GPS readings showing their movements since then.

One of these is probably the individual that wakes me up at night by walking on my currugated iron roof as it was trapped along the Empakasi River next to the Masai Gate below the Silole Sanctuary where I live……Yumi estimates her age as less than 3 years old, which makes her immature..

The other moves in & out of the park from the Mukoma Road Estate into the Langata Forest. This individual is also young, but appears from the examination of her teats to have had cubs…

She has positively identified at least 5 different males & estimates the entire NNP population at between 10-20. The huge margin for error is perfectly easy to understand by those of us who are lucky enough to spot a leopard in the park….

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KWS report a female with 3 cubs in the Langata Forest. Females appear to share territory, whilst males are much less tolerant of intruders……

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If anybody has information or sightings of leopards in NNP please let me know & I will pass on to Yumi…

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A usual sighting of a leopard -a sleeping beauty almost impossible to see amongst the foliage. Leopards are mainly noctournal &  are opportunistic predators eating whatever is locally available . Not surprisingly around NNP they are very fond of eating dogs & cats including my dachshund last year…….

Photos by top cat-spotter Dave McKelvie.