Every two months, volunteers from FoNNaP turn out in numbers to help KWS conduct the game census.
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.
On predators, sadly no cheetah and very few lions were spotted
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.
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.
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.
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 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