Yesterday I went with Inge to meet the scouts. We passed through the park on our way to Isinya. Here are my notes on that trip …
We entered the park at 0830. Just past the Ivory Burning Site we came across a lioness with four large (sub-adult) cubs. A little further on a car flashing it lights drew our attention. On driving up to them they pointed out a zebra lying in the grass by the roadside. (Thank you whoever you are and if you read this please add a comment to this post!). The lioness was just sitting by the kill and the zebra appeared not to have been eaten at all. It appeared to us that the other lioness and her four cubs had come from this direction too. They had looked very hungry and on the lookout to make another kill.
We wondered why this was. Later in the day (1530) we came back to the kill only to find it just as we had in the morning with the lioness still guarding it. It had not been eaten at all; there were no vultures near it or flying around. Does any one have any suggestions as to what could be going on here?
We drove on through the park noting the horrific stench at the Cheetah gate from the tannery near there and the factory effluent being spread on the ground just outside the gate. Little rivulets of effluent, supposedly ‘cleaned up’ after its short sojourn on the ground, ran into the Athi River. It’s a sad sight.
We picked up 4 scouts in Kitengela and headed up the road to Isinya where we met another 2 scouts. In a wind blown, chilly roadside restaurant we had a meeting lasting about an hour and a half. The scouts told me about their work.
They confirmed the reports (elsewhere on this blog) about the giraffe spearings and told of a leopard that has succeeded in nabbing 5 goats recently. KWS have been informed and are on the job setting up a trap to catch this animal and move it away from the area. The scouts also said that the Ostrich laying season is upon us and there is danger that children from the local areas could pick up some eggs or damage them. One of the scouts reported finding about 15 nests all full of eggs. He said he is watching that they are not damaged in any way.
The scouts also said that don’t see the large herds of wildebeest any more and related a story about some poaching they managed to stop. In this case the ring leader was a man from outside the Kitengela area and the operation they uncovered was quite a sophisticated one in which ‘teams’ of poachers acted in a orchestrated manner even stealing domestic animals from bomas — one team getting a cow out of the boma, another cutting it up and then a car coming to pick up the meat. These people had apparently also targeted wild animals especially zebra. They would leave behind only bones presumably because they they think an animal cannot be identified from its bones alone. Fortunately for us our scouts are well trained and sharp and can tell exactly what animal has been killed sometimes even from a single bone.
Inge explained that the wildebeest in this region don’t migrate to the Serengeti but are a unique group that have memories of a migration path from Amboseli through the Kitengela Corridor to Nairobi National Park. If these herds are lost there will never be another group like it — any new wildebeest will not have the memories of this group and will not migrate like them.
The scouts lamented the spread of construction sites, farms and factories. They worry that soon ALL the land between Nairobi and Namanga will be gone and with it their pastoralist way of life. They said they have been attending meetings of KILA where they voice their opinions on the very important and far-reaching matters that are discussed therein. They informed me that the communities in the area are very much FOR coexisting with wild animals and would like to benefit from the potential tourism aspects.
We ended the meeting and dropped off the scouts on our way back to the park returning through Kitengela where Inge showed me the fences that are our major worry as they are cutting off the animal migration and will kill off Nairobi National Park if we don’t keep up this vigilance and agitation of ours to stop further development and reverse current trends. Perhaps KWS can look into compulsory purchase land from the land owners and developers? It was extremely dry and thick dust swirled everywhere. This area is really only suitable for wildlife and/or pastoralism. Farms have no place here – boreholes would only further dry the land, while housing will put other pressures on the area with their sewerage disposal problems, garbage build-up and further blocking of the wildlife corridor.
Still we resolved not to get depressed but to continue the good fight for where else in the world can they claim to have a major National Park with so many wild animals in it literally on the doorstep of a massive, fantastically vibrant and growing city.