Newsletter – January 2008

Dear Members,

The recent disturbances affected everyone of us but fortunately not too much our work. Consolation for December was paid in time, 127,500/- Sh, much less than in November when leopards and cheetahs were the main predators. But in January we got already reports of several lion kills, the big lions seem to prey in the third triangle. Identification still outstanding.

Our Scouts got also their airtime on January 4th. It‘s always an opportunity to exchange views. This time round I was told that people have been found setting snares along the river. To tackle the problem the Scouts will networking with a number of herdsmen. People giving important informations should get some airtime, I suggest. Little money – big effect. FoNNaP Board to decide on.

By chance I could see how right the observation on setting snares along the river is. While in the park I saw about a dozen giraffes, young included, south of the river staring at two people which I found also suspicious. One – with a strong stick – went down to the river disappearing in the dense riverine vegetation while the other one kept watch. The latter one discovered my car and began to walk away ‚innocently‘. When the otherone appeared eventually, he avoided to look at me using a different route to join his friend more than 700 m away. Very likely he had checked snares along that stretch of the river. I alerted a KWS patrol which came along the road, and also our Scouts.

From park: Very many zebras are in the park feeding in regular turns on fresh green grasses at burnt areas and on unburnt long dry grasses. Kongoni, eland, about 20 wildebeest, waterbucks, 5 Chanler‘s reed buck plus a young, ostriches and large numbers of giraffes are frequently seen. Only the buffaloes are not that much around. Unusual.

A pride of 13 lions was reported frequently in December. Unfortunately, I could discover only one of them, sleeping under a bush. In recent days a pride of 5 was seen almost daily. This time round I managed to have a glance on, albeit from a distance: Ujonjo, the big male, a large female, a smaller female and at least 3 cubs which I would age between 8 and 12 months. They fed on an unidentified prey.
An adult male cheetah was seen several times, first at Lion Dip, later frequently here and there in Athi Basin.

Alledged arson attack. On January 6, 11 am, I was called from Kipeto, some 30 km south of the park. Huge white smoke clouds would be billowing up from the park, they would be breaking down. A similar report came from Mombasa Road. Alerted the Gate. KWS swung in action. About 2,5 km² burnt between Radio Beacon – No. 8 and Picnic Site No. 6 A. The way the clouds went up and broke down indicated that petrol or kerosene has been used to ignite the fire.

African wild dogs. They made headlines when they appeared close to the park end of 2006 but were forgotten lateron – except by a few people who felt responsible for to give these elusive, highly endangered species a chance to survive in the larger ecosystem of Nairobi Park.

Anthony Mututva, a Community Officer from Torosei area, had once assisted a Canadian PhD student helping her to trace wild dogs. Now he helps us to follow up their movements. That is quite important. Soon a map will be produced showing their general movement pattern these days. Although the wild dogs prey mainly on game animals – dikdik, Thomson‘s gazelles, Grant‘s gazelles, gerenuk and lesser kudu, all species which need no open water – occasionally they kill livestock. Today about 25 wild dogs killed 3 cows and 2 goats in Torosei location. People are outraged, want to kill the wild dogs if they do not get at least a consolation fee. But at present we have no funds at all and little hope to get money under the present circumstances. People have to be persueded to be patient. Unsatisfactory.

There are not that many dogs as you may think now. They move around very fast and wide. That creates the impression that there would be very many wild dogs. In reality there may be around 50 individuals between Kitengela – Oltepesi – Magadi – Namanga – Kajiado. Since they hunt in packs at day time a few dogs can cause great damage among livestock. Nevertheless, the dogs prefer the much faster wildlife.

These wild dogs showed us something which is not yet really recognized: There is a well established link between the third triangle, Kipeto – Oloyiangalani – Toroka towards the south. Wildlife uses hidden pathes and hidden water holes along that water-scarce route. Even zebras manage to negotiate the steep river banks of the Toroka river. Elephants, nowaday rare in the area, make a detour to the west and can reach also the Kapiti Plains.

The Nairobi Park ecosystem is not only linked to Amboseli but has also an important migration route to the south.

Inge Burchard


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