Cattle Invasion


The Athi Kapiti grasslands, of which the Nairobi National Park is a part – a dry season refuge for the grazers, both domestic & wild, that live here-is one of the richest rangelands in the world.

A prolonged dry cycle, a truncating ecosystem (thanks to NNP’s position right next to the rapidly expandig city of Nairobi) & too much livestock on a diminishing & degrading grass resource outside the park has led to thousands of cattle grazing within it.

Above you can see a microcosm of healthy rangeland -forbs, herbs & grasses which provide for the rich diversity of herbivores which depend upon it.


The park has received fair rains, in contrast with the dispersal area & the wider Kajiado district, which is suffering from drought, is terribly overgrazed & where sights such as above are no longer seen…..


A view of the Athi Basin in the park, the Athi Dam in the foreground & large herds of cattle in the background. This picture is taken on a sunday evening, when visitor numbers are at a premium. Notice the zebra in the foreground, now filtering back into the park after the traditional ‘migration’ out of he park during the rains. They didn’t find much grazing out on the plains……


Cattle……INSIDE the electric boundary fence……..


A vision of the future for NNP?


Note the herd of resting wildebeest behind the grazing cattle.


The protected areas of Kenya are currently under siege by cattle & livestock generally, because of the drought. There is a clear conflict of interest between that of KWS (mandated to protect & manage protected areas) & pastoralists whose livestock is threatened by the drought.


But if livestock is allowed to graze in parks (often because of political pressure) then what becomes of park rules? If herders are allowed in the park with hundreds of cattle why should anybody else PAY to enter ? Overseas visitors pay 40$ to visit NNP. Are they getting their moneysworth? Will they return in the future? What will they tell their tour operators back home?


Nairobi National Farm?

3 thoughts on “Cattle Invasion”

  1. I don’t even know what to say. This is a NATIONAL Park and I’m sorry, but cattle should NOT be allowed to graze there. Solution? I don’t know. So very sad that the Park may become a “Farm”!

  2. Willi, for sure this needs to be followed and closely but lets not Panic. Maasai cattle are no strangers. Movement in and out is dynamic evidence of a still healthy ecosystem.

    When I first visited Nairobi Park in the mid 1960’s several Somali Bomas were still in the Park. At that time they co-existed well with ~ 4500 Kongoni, six time more than we have now, and just a short time ago it was hard to count 450 Kongoni in Nairobi National Park.

    Now with the lions back in strength, and in maybe two prides, we need to cut the grass, relatively short grass makes the relatively safe resting areas free from the risk of day time lion ambush so that Multiple Species Associations of Herbivores can form and grow and prosper.

    Same for Tommy’s making a comeback with Cheetahs also back.

    This is a very bad year for Cattle, mine are in the Rift with Maasai herds, Some herds have already lost 90%. Kisongo, Matapato, Lodokelani,Ndamat, and Purko have all moved north in June.

    Markets have collapsed. So Nairobi National Park is being an excellent grass bank.

    And we have already had excellent Rains, the ones that drive the Mara Wildebeeste Migration, the ones the Samburu call Lorokine. Perfect, ~20 days early -much needed.

    The cattle will go back in a couple of weeks, let me know if they are still there at the end of July.

    Great Post Willi, Great Site, Keep it up, thanks for your effort and concern

  3. how sad can it be for the poor wild animals that obviously can’t compete against the man owned & protected livestock. while life of a wildebeest is worthless to the livestock owners unless the owners are poachers of the bushmeat trade, the ever increasing number and invasive species like cattle are the very life and pride of the owners whose want will never end. the more they have, the more they want for owning more cattle rise a man’s status. if a lion kills a cow or a goat, i am sure the owner will kill the predator without even much thought at all. even though his cattle are grazing illegally inside the territory of the lions and other wild animals.

    i assume those in the government and the livestock owners have not attempt to think of their long term negative impact or burden to this nation, their destruction of the environment and the diminishing wildlife which kenya is known for and much profited from and the inevitable dead end like running out of grassland period ( even though all wildlife and wild predators are wiped out ). when the grazing land is all out run by livestock, then what? kenya used to be one huge wild area where wild animals outnumbered people and domestic animals. i even recall a picture taken in the early twentieth century showing nairobi which was nothing but a big savannah! land of the lions, wildebeests, elephants and alike. now most lions are gone along with the once rich grass covered soil. livestock owners are running out of places to go like they used to any more. we can’t just invade other places because nations have been formed and land has been claimed by people instead of prides of lions.

    rain is much needed and the eroded soil must be rehab sooner than better so that the demand the people and the need of cattle/goats will be met during this desperate time. i wish them luck. and most of all, i give my sympathy and love to all wildlife especially to the big cats ( reason is men do love to kill them somehow. be they the officials of the u.s. fish and wildlife or hunters ).

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