‘Hot’ issues discussed in FoNNaP meeting… prior to viewing of Blue Planet documentary on humans’ interactions with the oceans – stunning filming

Shark calling, dolphin-assisted fishing, Hawaiian surfers’ spiritual connection with the sea, compression diving, goose barnacle collecting, were amongst the human-ocean interactions portrayed in part 1 of the series. Before settling down to watch this film, we had an interesting discussion.

It was brought to our attention by Mike Rainy – an experienced large scale ecologist who has lived in and studied our rangelands since the late 1960s – that game count data can also be used to show where animals congregate in what are called Multiple Species Associations (MSAs). 


Such associations form after daily more dispersed feeding periods. The reason that these groupings occur is increased safety through the presence of more individuals of different kinds of wildlife prey in the group. Research has revealed that protection from ambush hunters like lion occurs best on the relatively short grass in the area of congregation. Patchy burning near the ~25 – 30 most persistent MSAs in Nairobi National Park can thus give more animals significant protection from lion attacks.


There are now approximately 40 mature lions in NNP, many of which migrate out of the park following their prey, thus exposing themselves to conflict and, potentially, death. Numbers of prey eg kongoni (Coke’s Hartebeest) have decreased over the years giving rise to a situation in which the numbers of potential prey to predator has gone down. Prey can stay in the park and wait to be eaten, or migrate. However, creating conditions in NNP that encourage wildlife to congregate and feel safe, will encourage them to stay, thus preventing their own large scale out-migration, as well as that of the predators. Areas of short grass are needed. Focused burns or selected areas for gyro-mowing of long grass or both are the best way to accomplish this. Together with the protection of water sources for wildlife, a patch burning policy is key to the survival of Nairobi National Park which is celebrated as a World Class urban gem. 


Burning of grassland in NNP has always been a contentious issue. The research findings outlined above support a policy of patch burning in Nairobi National Park.


Should game counts be focused on gathering more and/or different data?

What are the arguments against burning?

The members present resolved to revisit this subject with KWS in the near future.

We also touched on : identifying the  steps needed to get the NNP Guide Book  published and marketed  –  posting online was also proposed as a means of achieving one of FoNNaP’s main aims ie to increase public awareness of the park; member’s ideas for visits – request made for visit to NNP rock art site, and possibly the one outside the park.

A visitor to the meeting, Professor of Social Geography Frederic Landy, is involved in a multi-disciplinary study entitled UNPEC (Urban National Parks in Emerging Countries and Cities). UNPEC will look at urban parks in Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Nairobi. Prof Landy is spending the next few days with Nixon Parmisa and on his next visit to Kenya will be happy to give a talk on the research and its findings.  

Thankyou to Irina for arranging the refreshments, to Gitonga for chairing, and Paula for loaning the dvd.


2 responses to “‘Hot’ issues discussed in FoNNaP meeting… prior to viewing of Blue Planet documentary on humans’ interactions with the oceans – stunning filming

  1. The current Nairobi Nat. Park manangement plan, which is now in the process of being up-dated calls for prescribed “cold” burns in the Park of the tall grass areas, every ten years. This would be in keeping with Mike Rainy’s patch work burning ideas, as “cold” burns create such a patch-work landscape.

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