Pics by WILL KNOCKER:
I spent Easter at Kilima Kiu near Konza, at the south of the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem of which NNP is a part & drovev the Kapiti (properly Kaputiei) plains to get there…..
The Kaputiei Plains, looking south west…
Many cattle died in the drought of 2009 & sheep do well on the short grass plain (heavily grazed.) Ngong Hills in the bachground.
Tommies, looking west.
The brand new town of Kitengela: Kenya’s Brave New World…….
Looking over the Park: the Empakasi river in the Athi Basin
Story & pics by WILL KNOCKER:
Much effort & debate swirls around the ‘dispersal area’ of the park.
Below: the ‘real’ dispersal area for much of the park’s migratory grazers: the Sheep & Goat land.
This is government owned land (it used to be/still is? a holding ground for livestock going to the slaughterhouse at Athi River.)
It adjoins the block of NNP which lies across the Empakasi River just downstream of the hippo pools….
It is quite large: several thousand acres & heavily grazed by Maasai livestock
Part of NNP across the Empakasi, looking north into the park…….
The Sheep & Goat land is VITAL for the last few gnu in NNP (once there were 100,000 (est.) in the ecosystem. They drop their calves there…..
We now have 1000 (1 % of the above) who have access to the park. The remainder are on the Kapiti plains across the Athi River/Namanga highway….
The Sheep & Goat land is not only of ecological importance to gnus: thousands of grazers (see these current pics) use this area which is or SHOULD BE an INTEGRAL AREA of NNP.
So what steps are being taken by KWS, FONNAP, Wildlife Foundation etc. to conserve & BIND TO THE PARK this essential area: the only true short-grass plain habitat available to gazelle sp., gnu, zebra etc?
The debate on the ‘dispersal area’ really, urgently, needs to focus on this prime bit of habitat.
We wildebeest are watching you……….
IMAGES by KATE MAUGHLING:
BY WILL KNOCKER:
Of 250 gazelles counted in the park in February, 74 were Grant’s Gazelles -locally known as ‘oloibor siadi’ or ‘white bums’ as this slightly out of focus pic shows ….
Now fairly widespread over the park (the figure above is a minimum), this sp. is an indicator of short-grass plain habitat.
Grantis are favoured prey of cheetahs- which are the only creature capable of catching these fast & agile semi-arid adapted creatures
A buck, with no chetah to fear (only one male remains in NNP.)
Mostly does: notice large mob of zebra below. all pics taken in the Athi Basin….