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Not a Real Trip Report: Kenya - November 2013


Safaridude
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I was in Kenya for a few days last week for a series of conservation meetings (mostly with The Nature Conservancy). I should be exempt from a full TR. Besides, Twaffle will just get mad at me for having been in Africa yet again. :D @@twaffle

 

I did get out to Lewa, Ol Pejeta, and Sabuk but not for a safari (I did manage to tick off of few photos). Then I spent a day in Nairobi National Park, which was teeming with game.

 

So, here are some photos:

 

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This is an interesting one right off the bat. This is a photo of a hybrid plains/Grevy's zebra. Because there are so few Grevy's zebras in the southern part of Laikipia, desperate Grevy's zebras seek to mate with plains zebras. There are about 7-8 of these hybrids at Ol Pejeta. They believe these hybrids are sterile.

 

 

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These are northern white rhino, a race of the white rhino. Four of the last six known individuals were translocated to Ol Pejeta from a zoo in the Czech Republic. They appear to be happy but they haven's successfully bred yet. The northern whites are smaller than the southern whites.

 

 

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Black rhino at Lewa Wildiife Conservancy

 

 

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A bull elephant strolling down the hill at Sabuk

 

 

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That's a magnificent black-maned lion at, of all places, Nairobi National Park. The lions are doing very well (about 40 in number), and the park was pumping with game.

 

 

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Those are mountain reebucks (of the Chanler's race in East Africa). I hadn't seen one since 1991 (at Lewa). These were taken at Nairobi National. I saw three different groups. Mountain reedbucks are nearly impossible to see in other places, but they are easy to see at NNP.

 

 

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Finally, that's a visitor to the pool at The Emakoko (a lodge inside the Nairobi National Park I have come to really love). Luckily, he didn't go for a swim.

Edited by Safaridude
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@@Safaridude, did you get a chance to see where the proposed Nairobi bypass will cut through the park?

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Twaffle will just get mad at me for having been in Africa yet again. :D @@twaffle

 

She is not the only one!

 

 

For the moment it is nice to know that NBO Nat park is pumping with game including a healthy lion population.

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madaboutcheetah

@@Safaridude - 40 Lions is a good number. Thanks for this mini report..........

 

Haven't been to Nairobi national park - except saw a couple of giraffe and grant's gazelle from the hotel lobby (forget the name of it now - the one near the airport).

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@@Safaridude - 40 Lions is a good number. Thanks for this mini report..........

 

Haven't been to Nairobi national park - except saw a couple of giraffe and grant's gazelle from the hotel lobby (forget the name of it now - the one near the airport).

 

And that is probably too many for such a small park at the moment. As a result, there is only one cheetah in the park right now (historically, there has always been several individuals).

 

The southern end of the park is still "open"… animals can squeak through a very narrow corridor in and out of the park onto the Athi-Kapiti Plains. @@madaboutcheetah

Edited by Safaridude
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Wow back to Africa in under 60 days. Great picture of the hippo at Emakoko's pool. Brought back pleasant memories from earlier this year. How are Emma and Anton?

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Emma and Anton are doing great, and their kids are doing great too. The lodge has matured nicely. The staff is really friendly, and the food is out of this world (please keep that chef!)! An orphaned impala hangs around the lodge, and there is an orphan Thomson's gazelle as well but did not see him.

 

The day I arrived, there were two very very old buffalos hanging around the lodge. One of them looked very skinny. When I got back to The Emakoko a few days later for a day room before my flight out at night, I learned that the old skinny buffalo had died. His carcass was dragged away from the lodge (the smell, otherwise!), and there were signs of lions and hyenas feeding on it.

 

Anyhow, I met Emma and Anton back in 2006 when they were managing Elsa's Kopje in Meru National Park. We remained in touch, and I was the very first guest at The Emakoko in 2012 when it opened.

 

The day I arrived, there was a big party of sorts with Emma and Anton's friends and family at the lodge. Jet lag be damned, I participated hard.

 

The day before I left Nairobi, I had a few things to do downtown. The hideous traffic in Nairobi reminded me why I will probably always stay at The Emakoko (because of its location inside NNP, you avoid downtown traffic and is an easy transfer to and from JKIA (the international airport) and the Wilson Airport (domestic airport). @@AKR1

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Mad as hell … and I knew you had been in Nairobi (I have my secret ways!) and I wondered if you were going to be brave enough to come clean here on ST.

 

You're forgiven only for the very fine photo of a grebra. :)

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@@Rainbirder @@madaboutcheetah

 

Rainbirder's ID'ing of the juvenile Bateleur in Madaboutcheetah's thread reminded me that on this short trip I saw steppe eagles migrating in.

 

I was in a Super Cub (a 2-man aircraft) heading to Sabuk from Lewa when I saw a mass of birds. I had to alert the pilot who was looking off to the side so that we wouldn't have a dangerous bird strike. When we were passing the birds, we realized they were steppe eagles... possibly just migrating in. Steppe eagles are Palearctic migrants. From October to April, they migrate into Africa from as far away as Europe, and northern Asia. There were probably 30 or so birds flying in. It was a spectacular sight.

 

A day later at Sabuk, we were having a sundowner when one of the guides pointed out 3 eagles perched on a dead branch and declared them tawny eagles. This provided a perfect opportunity for yours truly to show off (not that I am an accomplished birder but I know a bit here and a bit there). They were steppe eagles... sometimes the only way you can truly tell apart a steppe eagle from the non-migratory tawny eagle is to look closely at the gape. The steppe eagle's gape is much longer than that of the tawny eagle.

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armchair bushman

 

@@Safaridude - 40 Lions is a good number. Thanks for this mini report..........

 

Haven't been to Nairobi national park - except saw a couple of giraffe and grant's gazelle from the hotel lobby (forget the name of it now - the one near the airport).

 

And that is probably too many for such a small park at the moment. As a result, there is only one cheetah in the park right now (historically, there has always been several individuals).

 

The southern end of the park is still "open"… animals can squeak through a very narrow corridor in and out of the park onto the Athi-Kapiti Plains. @@madaboutcheetah

 

First let me say, nice pictures and mini-report! Especially nice that you got to see that big black maned lion in NNP. Do you know that there is a full exhaustive catalogue of all the lions in NNP which can be found online? You could probably positively ID that guy if you looked.

 

40 lions is definitely too much for such a small park (only 117km squared), which is being constrained more each day by increasing settlement in every direction. However, there are more lions to the south in the Kapiti plains. It's because the lion population is too high that there has been so much conflict with the athi-kapiti maasai in the last two years. And it's also the reason people in Karen and Langata keep finding lion tracks in their gardens! My girlfriend works at the IUCN offices just next to the park off Magadi rd. They sometimes have to eat lunch indoors because there's a female with cubs prowling the grounds.

 

As far as cheetah go, it's complicated. The last time there was a healthy cheetah population in NNP was a LONG time ago. They are much less adaptable to a changing environment than lion and leopard, so the slightest bit of disturbance causes a population drop. The one cheetah that is spotted in NNP from time to time is only a visitor. It never spends any extended length of time there.

Interestingly enough, the Athi Kapiti plains to the south support what is thought to be the highest population (for a single area) of cheetah anywhere in Africa! This is also where the famous "spotless" cheetah lives. It is not albino or leucistic. It just doesn't have spots (or it does, but they're so small and faint, that you can't really see them).

 

It won't be long before the "corridor" into the athi plains will be completely cut off by residential development, fences, and rock mines. The last time I drove down the outer southern boundary of the park, I lost hope (and that was 5 years ago).

 

On to the topic of grevy's zebra:

It's been noted above that hybrids always come from a grevy's male and common female. The reason for this is simple. Grevy's males are larger, stronger, and behaviourally more dominant than Common zebra stallions. They are strongly territorial and will aggressively see off any common zebra males. Because there are so few grevy's (both male and female) in southern laikipia, the males will take whatever they can get - which sometimes turns out to be a common female.

As far as I know Ol Pejeta is the only place where hybrids have been recorded (I may be wrong).

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armchair bushman

@@Safaridude, I'm quite sure what you saw in NNP were Bohor Reedbuck (Redunca redunca). I would be very surprised if you saw Chanler's Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) as they are generally found in montane habitats - high altitude hillsides and broken mountain grasslands.

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Thanks @@armchair bushman

 

I have heard that there are some Grevy's/plains zebra hybrids just north of Ol Pejeta as well (I believe they have been seen on Sosian Ranch?)

 

I am quite certain that they were mountain reedbucks at NNP. Both mountain reedbucks and bohor reedbucks occur at NNP. Really the only way to tell is by the color (the bohor would be much more rufous - impala color). These mountain reedbucks were on typically hilly terrain. The park authorities reckon that there are 20-30 in the park. I know, it's strange that NNP would harbor mountain reedbucks but it does. The bohor reedbucks are almost never found around the ridges where I saw the mountain reedbucks.

See these links:

 

http://nairobinationalpark.wildlifedirect.org/2011/09/13/mountain-reedbuck/

 

 

http://allafrica.com/stories/201111070304.html

Edited by Safaridude
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armchair bushman

Huh interesting. learn something new every day (about the reedbucks).

It doesn't surprise me that there are hybrid zebras between ol pej and sosian. It's basically a contiguous grassland ecosystem joined by ADC Mutara and a couple of smaller ranches.

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