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!

Rhino Charge!

Photos by Ned Knocker (aged 10):


The Nairobi National Park black rhinos are much more difficult to see than the introduced whites, which are placid owing to their inbred genetic inheritance. Black females (which nearly always have calves at heel) usually trot off at the approach of a vehicle…..


Not so this bull, encountered on the early morning school run….notice the wound on his chest…….sign of a fight with another male?


Here he comes: Ned has nerves of steel…….


We’re out of there!!!!

Migration Time


Files of zebra have come into the park in the last week from the plains in the background:the fast diminishing ‘dispersal area’…..


Most of the park’s kongoni population stay IN the park, but the few that have moved out in the wet season now move back….


Even our last few wildebeest are on the move- this is a herd of adventurous yearlings, which with the bulls move ahead of the cows & calves, who remain on the Sheep & Goat land outside the park.


Eland join the moving herds……


And a shower of rain brings a flush of green to the rapidly drying out plains; giving the zebra encouragement to move into the park.


Stripey equines: the NNP herd is about 4,000 strong…..



Encouragingly, gazelles are back: these Thomson’s, but also the larger Grant’s.


Update on Leopard Research in NNP


Yesterday Yumi the leopard researcher came to look at leopard pugs behind Silole Cottage & gave me an update on the research she is doing on NNP leopards. She collared 2 leopards in order to monitor their movements.One is ‘ours’: she lives in the park & in the Silole Sanctuary abutting the park, whilst the other animal is resident in the Langata Forest in the west of the park.

Yumi was telling me about analysis of the scat (droppings) in these 2 areas of the park & the results are interesting: these leopards really are suburban, making use of the food resources inside & outside of the park. The first (Silole) leopard, which inhabits the area around the river-gorges of the Kiserian & Empakasi rivers had baboon & hyrax remains in it’s scat, along with the hairs of sheep & goats presumably stolen from Masai homesteads outside the park, whilst the second leopard, whose movements show it crosses the Magadi road into the neighbouring Mukoma Estate had bushbuck remains & domestic dog hairs in it’s scat. So now you know where your missing pet went to…….


Why I Am Called a ‘Secretary Bird”


There are several pairs of Secretary birds in NNP: so-called because of the ‘scribes quills’ which decorate the back of their necks…..


These large,  mainly terrestial raptors stride purposefully across the savannah looking for large insects, rodents & reptiles to stamp on with their powerful legs. Notice the very sharp-looking beak!


The Last Cheetah


Yesterday, in the Athi Basin, we came across what I believe to be the last cheetah in Nairobi National Park: a large male.

He had killed a hen ostrich & on our approach, trotted off (an extremely wary cheetah, this: he would have to be , would he not, to be the last survivor?


Paradoxically there are many (8?) cheetahs in the ‘Orphanage’ at Main Gate & across the main highway to Tanzania (which is the southern, uncrossable, boundary of the park’s dispersal area) there seems to be a fair population of  wild cheetahs, but this is the last one in NNP: no cubs have been seen for several years now, though we hope that by some miracle a female may appear from somewhere……


Look at the belly:stuffed with ostrich meat!


The kill: a cheetah pulling down & killing an ostrich is something I have never heard of!


But then this is no ordinary cheetah: here’s a shot from several years ago of the same cheetah on a fully grown kongoni he killed: this individual is a formidable hunter……

Rhino Crossing

Photos by Ned Knocker:


We met a group of 6 white (or grass ) rhinos on the way to school…..


There are 11 in total in Nairobi National Park; one of the translocated females gave birth justs days after arriving from Nakuru NP……


Here she is……one could never get this close to our native black rhinos. These are Southern White Rhinos from Southern Africa, whilst our Blacks are the East African sub-species (michealii) of the browse rhino.


Here is a white bull: notice his extraordinary pendulous lips (a very wide mouth:hence ‘white’ rhino) adapted to cropping grass on the savannah…

King Of Nairobi National Park (East)


Ujonjo was the last adult male lion left in Nairobi National Park when the population of lions (historical average 30) dropped to just 7 individuals in 2005. Since then the population has bounced back to an estimated 35-40 individuals. Here he is photographed outside the Park in the Silole Sanctuary…….


He was recently observed killing a cub in the west of the park & my theory is that this was in fact the off-spring of his son (see below), who with a younger brother has established dominance over the lionesses who wander alone or in small groups there…..


In the east of the park, Ujonjo remains the master………