35 lions in Nairobi Park game count

Every 2 months FoNNaP members assist KWS in conducting total game counts in the Nairobi National Park. This month was exceptional in that we counted an extraordinary number of 35 lions. This may be the largest number ever counted in a single day in the park!

Buffalo 331
Bush buck 12
Dikdik 3
Eland 191
Grants gazelle 118
Thompsons Gazelle 170
Giraffe 91
Hartebeest 599
Waterbuck 6
Wildebeest 108
Warthog 19
Impala 713
Yellow necked spurfowl 17
Hippo 1
Secretary bird 2
Crocodile 2
Black rhino 2
White rhino 1
Zebra 772
Silver backed jackal 2
Vervet 23
Ostrich 97
Lion 35
Crowned crane 13
Kori bustard 2
White tailed mongoose 1
Guinea fowl 93
Spotted hyena 2

Apart from lots of lions and very few rhinos (this result is very very worrying)…these numbers are typical of the rainy season and the wildebeest, zebra, Kongoni, gazelles and impala have all pushed off into the wet season dispersal area in the Kitgengela. But where exactly do they go? We got really ambitious and we called together a number of institutions who all agree that wet season/dry season counts will provide important information to help guide management. We designed a series of game counts the purpose of which is to document the distribution of wildlife and livestock outside of the park but within the ecosystem which includes the three triangles, and the Machakos Ranches which make up the proposed Athi Kapiti Conservancy (see map). The counts being conducted this rainy season include

1. Aerial sample count for the entire ecosystem by the Directorate of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing. We thank AWF for financing the count and DRSRS for moving with such speed to conduct it. This survey was done on 4th and 5th June (3,000 Km2)
2. Ground total count Nairobi Park 5th June (115 Km2)
3. Ground count in the Machakos Athi Kapiti Ranches – underway (800k m2) 4 days
4. Community run ground sample count by foot in the Kitengela area 2,200 Km2) 10 days

These game counts will give us numbers and distribution of wildlife and livestock during the wet season and will allow us to compare with previous counts. There have been 17 previous aerial counts by DRSRS since 1977 and 2 previous ground counts in Kitengela, plus 6 previous counts in the Machakos ranches. The community game count will involve 40 members of the Masai Community who will be trained and supervised by ILRI scientists in conducting the survey using GPS, rangefinders and binoculars. This is an exercise that empowers the community to gather their own data, enter it and participate in analysis and interpretation. The count is currently budgeted at Ksh 720,000 to conduct.

We have raised nearly 20% of the budget from members and friends towards it and invite you to contribute through a cheque or MPESA 0723690686 or deposit cash or a cheque with Irinah at the office, or directly into our I&M account Karen Friends of Nairobi National Park, Karen Branch, 00800 525 251 210.

Below is the list for donations received so far for the game count:

1. Wildlife Direct (National Geographic Big Cat Initiative: Cheetah Project) KES. 40,000.00
2. Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNaP) KES. 20,000.00
3. Paula Kahumbu KES. 10,000.00
4. Wahida Shah KES 10,000.00
5. East African Women’s League KES. 5,000.00
6. Dino Martins KES. 5,000.00
7. Mrs. M. S. Cheffings KES. 5,000.00
8. Joan & Davinder Sikand KES. 5,000.00
9. Paula’s Friends KES. 4,500.00
10. Zaheeda Suleiman KES. 2,000.00
11. Doris Schaule KES. 2,000.00
12. Pauline Vaughan KES. 2,000.00
13. Kimberley Maunder KES. 1,000.00
14. Irinah Wandera KES. 1,000.00

TOTAL KES. 122,500.00


These game counts are critical for the effective management of the greater ecosystem and we hope to repeat them every year in the wet and dry seasons. Our aim is to use these data to understand what is happening to the wildlife during dispersal, and to make decisions about FoNNaP direction in terms of prioritizing our own activities in the dispersal area which is the lifeline for the park.


2 responses to “35 lions in Nairobi Park game count

  1. Fascinating news about the lions. One would think they would follow the herds as they move into the wet season dispersal area, but perhaps the lions have learned and understand that it is far more dangerous out there, and know they are safe staying in NNP as long as some of the herds remain. The low number of rhinos, on the other hand, is definitely disturbing. I thought they had as many as 30 in NNP.

    FONNAP is doing truly remarkable work in supporting KWS and NNP. Congratulations and applause from Washington DC.

  2. Wow!! It shows what presistant conservation efforts can do. Lion numbers in many areas of Kenya are decreasing, but in the Nairobi National Park ecosystem, lion numbers have been increasing for many years now. In year 2003 there were only 7 lions in the Nairobi National Park ecosystem. In that year The Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Conservation Lease Programme started to increase the number of acres of the dispersal area that are being kept un-fenced and un-cultivated, and now those protected acres in the Lease Programme number over 42,000.

    Nairobi National Park is less than 30,000 acres in size, so the Lease Programme is more than doubling the Nairobi National Park conservation area. At the same time FoNNaP’s Predator Consolation Project further helped to kept peace between the lions and the private pastoral landowners of the Nairobi National Park wildlife dispersal area.

    Now another level of protection has been added to these conservation efforts by with the
    Kajiado County Council zoning most of this vital habit for livestock/widlife grazing with a minimum parcel size of 60 acres. Lions are outside the open southern boundary of Nairobi National Park everyday and the work of these programmes and good local leaders has led to these excellent increases in lion numbers.

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