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David Sheldrick biobox Park Map

Kenya’s oldest National Park

Nairobi is Africa’s third largest city and the regional hub for East Africa. It is also the only city in the world to boast a 12,000-hectare park (117 square kilometres), teaming with wildlife, right on its doorstep. Rolling plains, riverine woodland and thick bush lined valleys are just some of Nairobi National Park’s varied habitats. With its many entrances Nairobi National Park is easily accessible from all of Nairobi whether arriving into Jomo Kenyatta Airport, from Wilson airport or travelling South, from the city itself.

It is not only approachable for human visitors; its unfenced southern boundary means that it also provides a welcome dry-season refuge for migratory species. In fact 4000 zebra, 1000 wildebeest, 14 species of antelope (including eland and kongoni) all call the Nairobi National Park their home at some point throughout the year. In turn they attract animals further up the food chain. An estimated population of nearly 40 lion rub shoulders with good numbers of leopard and spotted hyena, as well as the occasional cheetah and the elusive aardwolf. Click Here for a full list of animals in Nairobi National Park

The Park is also an acclaimed Rhino Sanctuary, best known for it’s breeding population of over 50 Black (or Browse) rhino, recently joined by 11 White (or Grass rhino) translocated from Nakuru National Park.
Some of the Park’s smaller, but just as thrilling, inhabitants include 527 species of birds, (from the heaviest flying bird – the Kori Bustard, to the magnificent forest raptor – the Crowned eagle), innumerable species of amphibians, reptiles, insects and plants, all of which thrive in the grasslands, forests, rocky valleys, dry forests and the numerous seasonal and permanent wetlands that make Nairobi National Park so special.

Nairobi National Park is a classic savannah park containing stunning African upland landscapes; a true gem, next to the vibrant global city that is Nairobi… As Kenya’s oldest National Park it is unique, full of history (and wildlife) and a must see destination for anyone living in or visiting Kenya.

Nairobi National Park History

The City of Nairobi is just over 110 years ago and it‚s National Park (the oldest in Kenya) is intimately involved with it, now, in the future and in the past..

Nairobi was founded as an encampment associated with the building of the Uganda Railway in 1899 on the plains just below the beginning of the forests of Kikuyuland, where there was permanent water (Engare Nairobi ‘The Place of Cool Water ‘ in the Maa language).

These plains were of course the Athi Plains and they absolutely teemed with large mammals. It is estimated that the the Athi Kapiti Ecosystem (where Nairobi was built in the North West corner of this savannah ecosystem) was home to 100,000 wildebeest in those days.

Nairobi, as befitting the first modern urban centre in the East African hinterland grew rapidly, but luckily for us, a Commanage‚ was established in the area that is now the Park, bounded to the south by the Empakasi River. You could not obtain land in this Commanage and it was a grazing ground for cattle and other animals (all transport was then animal-powered at the time) associated with the city.

The First and Second World Wars came and went and fearful inroads were made into the enormous numbers of migratory large mammals: wildebeest, zebra and kongoni to feed hungry soldiers and in the Second War, Italian prisoners of war. The Park area was even used as a bombing practice ground by the airforce at this time.

By the end of the Second War, land in the new city was at a premium and Nairobi expanded rapidly. There was talk in the town about the problem‚ of wildlife as giraffe and even lions wandered through the city and it’s suburbs freely.

The Chief Game Warden at the time was Mervyn Cowie and he was the man that we must today thank for having the vision to do something about the amazing ecological jewel that is Nairobi National Park today: surrounded by the city of Nairobi!

Cowie realized that the Nairobi Commanage, threatened and encroached upon even then, must be Used or Lost‚. To that end he wrote to the newspapers of the time, incognito, knowing that the people of Nairobi loved their Commanage, containing as it did all the species of wildlife that had made the Colony of Kenya a paradise for hunters and naturalists. He caused a storm of controversy by suggesting that the Commanage should be built on and the wildlife eliminated forever in the interests of the city.

The public reaction to this suggestion was so intense that a public subscription was started to save the Commanage‚ and Mervyn Cowie was free to turn it into the Colony’s first formally gazetted National Park in 1946.

Cattle used as slaughter animals by the city butchers were herded in the Park up until the 1970’s by Somalis, but otherwise it became a popular weekend destination for the citizens of Nairobi. Lions were a problem, killing cattle and other livestock when they could, especially in the Wet Seasons when the majority of wildlife migrated out of the Park into the Kitengela Dispersal Area and so the Park was fenced where it bounds the city.

Now that Nairobi has become a Global City of 5 million people, the dispersal area is mostly increasingly humanized and no longer suitable for wildlife, so all that remains of the Great Athi Plains and their spectacular array of wildlife is confined to our spectacular Nairobi National Park.

Complete list of animals

MAMMALS

  • White (Grass) rhino
  • Black (Browse) rhino
  • Hippopotamus
  • Masai giraffe
  • Cape buffalo
  • Lion
  • Leopard
  • Cheetah
  • Serval cat
  • African civet
  • Clawless otter
  • Zorilla
  • African wildcat
  • Spotted hyena
  • Aaardwolf
  • Black backed jackal
  • White tailed mongoose
  • Black –tipped (Slender) mongoose
  • Ichneumon (Egyptian mongoose)
  • Aardvark (Antbear)
  • Plains zebra
  • Eland
  • Bushbuck
  • Wildebeest (Eastern white-bearded)
  • Coke’s hartebeest (kongoni)
  • Impala
  • Grant’s gazelle
  • Thomson’s gazelle
  • Bohor reedbuck
  • Mountain reedbuck
  • Suni
  • Dikdik (Kirk’s)
  • Common duiker
  • Red Forest duiker
  • Oribi
  • Waterbuck (Common)
  • Olive baboon
  • Vervet monkey
  • Syke’s monkey
  • Greater galago
  • Warthog
  • Bushpig
  • African Hare
  • Spring Hare
  • Striped Ground squirrel
  • Bush squirrel
  • Tree hyrax
  • Bush hyrax
  • Rock hyrax

REPTILES OF NOTE

  • Africa Rock python (Python sebae)
  • Serrated hinged terrapin
  • Leopard tortoise
  • Nile crocodile
  • Nile monitor
  • Black-necked spitting cobra
  • Puff adder
  • Rhombic night adder

BIRDS OF NOTE (516 species)

  • Masai ostrich (densest wild population in Africa)
  • Kori bustard
  • Lappet faced vulture
  • Ruppell’s Griffon vulture
  • White-backed vulture
  • Crowned eagle
  • Martial eagle