Game counts

Every two months, volunteers from FoNNaP turn out in numbers to help KWS conduct the game census.

Paula and Dominic looking for lions

Below are the results of the last two counts. When it comes to endangered species we all think of the rhino. Only 15 black rhino and 5 white rhino were recorded in the last count. Black rhino are territorial and need space and security to breed.  The KWS estimate their black rhino population to be 65 individuals – but where are they? Earlier this year 10 white rhino were put in the Nairobi Park, these are easy to spot and do spend much of their time on the fringes of the park. At least one calf has been born bringing the white rhino population to 11. Hippos suffered dreadfully during the drought devastating the population at Hippo Pools. Several were re-introduced into the small ponds.

The number 1 attraction to Nairobi National Park - Lion!

On predators, sadly no cheetah and very few lions were spotted


2010 wildlife game count data for Nairobi National Park

Trends in numbers of Wildebeest and Zebra in Nairobi Park

Trends in numbers of Wildebeest and Zebra in Nairobi Park

Wildebeest and Zebra are the main species that migrate from Nairobi National Park into the Athi Kapiti Plains every year. It is great news that the gnu are back in the park in good numbers after many many years – everyone thought that the migration was over. The figures for 2010 show that the migration does still occur. These animals depend on short grass habitats and so after the rain when the grass is long they take off on a long trek in search of short grass. Wildebeest used to number in the low thousands. They are particularly sensitive to the fences that block their migration pathways. The Park is a critical dry season habitat for all the migratory wildlife.

Witness rare sights like this lion stalking a Zebra

Zebra are more adaptable to the different habitats and season and now make up the bulk of the migration. However,  there are reports that they are being poached in numbers now on the Kapiti plains for sale in Nairobi butcheries.

Trends in numbers of large species of antelopes Nairobi National Park

The large numbers of Kongoni in Nairobi Park are a relief for this fast declining species. Kongoni migrate with the wildebeest and zebras. Every rainy season they leave the park but return for dry season forage.  Giraffe number about 100 in the park and seem to be doing well in the Acacia woodlands and open plains. They do not stick to the park and can often be found wandering in loose herds around the Kitengela plains. Waterbuck numbers are few as they restricted to riverine habitats.

Trends in numbers of small antelopes in Nairobi National Park

What’s happening to the warthogs? These animals are very sensitive to predator populations and  their numbers seem to fluctuate having reached over 50 in previous months, but dropped to below 30 recently. Numbers can fluctuate widely depending on the presence of piglets. Many of the animals of the Nairobi Park move in and out of the park during the rains – it’s not a technical ‘migration’ but more of a short distance move. Though common on the plains outside of the park, Thomsons gazelle are not that numerous in the Nairobi Park due to the long grass that has become rank. It’s time for a burn! Whenever the grass is burned, the Thommy’s and Grants gazelle numbers increase.

Ostrich dad counting his chicks

Trends in numbers of ostrich in Nairobi National Park

Ostrich numbers fluctuate widely depending on the hatching success. In October 2010, 144 were seen, mostly chicks, many of which will not survive.

Game Counts are conducted every February, April, June, August, October and December. The game counts are coordinated by KWS and FoNNaP members volunteer to help with the count. To participate in the count you must register with FoNNaP or KWS. You must have a 4×4 and be able to start at 6 am on the 5th of December 2010. Brush up on your identification skills – the following species are counted

Species counted in Nairobi Park Game count

Game count blocks in Nairobi National Park


3 responses to “Game counts

  1. I think that a significant statistic in these game counts would be the number of people counting and perhaps more importantly, the number of vehicles. The numbers can be significantly skewed simply by the number of counters. Or maybe how long the day was counted (eg. if it rained in the afternoon, cutting the count short).

  2. Thanks for the great comment. On counting consistency, the count has been done the same way for decades – one vehicle per block with at least 2 counters. All counts start at 6 am so in terms of temperature this should not pose too much of a problem in terms of animal behaviour. We expect the count (which is done the same way in many other parts of Kenya should and Africa, provide good consistency by following same methods every time). Visibility can change from season to season. The height of grass could be a problem from season to season, and/or the weather as animals move out of the park when it rains. Despite their size, black rhino’s are hard to detect because they hang out in dense bush. Having 6 counts per year however gives a really high quality source of information.

  3. A very informative article on population trends in NNP. Thank you. What your graphs do not show is that there were 1,000 gnu counted in the park at the height of the drought last year (2009). Keep up the excellent work & the first class web page!!

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