By NDUNG’U NJAGA
… But the most formidable threat to Nairobi Park today is the imminent blockage of a vital corridor that links it to the wider Athi-Kapiti-Amboseli dispersal area. This ecosystem is the second largest migration of wildebeest and zebra in the region after the Maasai Mara – Serengeti migration, which is one of the biggest wildlife spectacles in Africa. Thanks to this migration, Nairobi Park is, occasionally, home to high populations of herbivores and predators, which can only be maintained in the park through regular migrations since they cannot be maintained by the park’s resources all the year round. Closing this park, as the settlement pattern portends, will spell the death knell for the park as known today, since on its own it can host only a few sedentary antelopes.
This isolation is the one that has alarmed conservationists and other stakeholders who coalesce under an active NGO group, Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNaP). In concert with KWS, FoNNaP has been working overtime to secure this corridor for wildlife. They are doing this through various policy strategies that include raising funds to compensate land owners in this land corridor for not converting the land into alternative land use.
Another significant feat by FoNNaP is that it has successfully obliged KWS into active management of a national park, hitherto an unpopular practice in Kenya. It started with invasive plant species, a problem associated with small size and heavy utilisation by both animals and visitors. In a large ecosystem, exotic plants are buffered by natural factors. But in a small park they can easily hijack and overrun the system as has happned in the park.