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Should Nairobi National Park be completely fenced?

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I so hope that they figure out a solution to this challenge. It would be unfortunate to lose such a gem.

I certainly hope so too!

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@@Game Warden To be honest, I don’t think that fencing the park completely need affect visitor numbers at all. Most people aren’t aware of the current situation, so if the situation were to change ever so slightly, I don’t see it making too much of a difference. The only, longer term, way it would affect visitor numbers would be due to a reduction to wildlife numbers making it less value for money. If KWS goes ahead with this plan to translocate half the lions out of the park, this will already have some effect, I’m guessing. Still, where else can you see 14 rhinos, ostrich, lion, giraffe, all the plains-game you could want, and a huge multitude of bird species in one morning before an afternoon at the pub to watch the footy with a bunch of mates?

While I think that fully fencing the park wouldn’t necessarily “encourage” further development, I do think that it would accelerate a little as stakeholders would no longer have any motivation to make efforts to keep it a little open. More developers would look at that land as “safe” to build on.

I think there is still some areas to the South where the park could be increased before fully fencing it off. A legitimate survey would have to be done in-situ, however, and I'm sure money would have to be paid to land-owners to compensate for land lost.

Fencing the park would not affect my personal willingness to visit the park unless game-viewing and the ecological soundness of the park was adversely affected.

@@amybatt There are lions, leopards, cheetah, and plenty of plains-game out in the Athi Kapiti plains. Not in terribly high numbers, but yes, there is a larger gene pool out there which currently still mixes with the NNP pool. Also, yes, when a lion gets kicked out of a pride, or a female decides to leave, they often wander considerable distances to find new prides and/or territory. A lion from Ol Kinyei, might get overthrown by another lion, walk into Naboisho, find that all cubicles are taken, and head to OMC or the Reserve. It’s pretty common. Cheetahs, of course, are not territorial, and wander vast distances in a year. A cheetah seen in Naboisho in January might be seen in North Western Serengeti by April. Many plains-game species also wander far, as you know. When Nairobi was first being built, a wildebeest migration to rival the current Serengeti/Mara migration existed between what is now NNP and Amboseli.

Nairobi National Park IS a huge resource for Nairobians. It’s a great place for field trips for schools, family outings, friends day-out, picnics, sun-downers, a place for learning for budding safari guides, and wildlife management students, and wildlife clubs. It costs Kshs 500/- for a citizen to enter the park + whatever vehicle costs are incurred (depends on your individual arrangements). A beer at any local pub/beer garden generally costs Kshs 250/-. My thinking is, why not buy beer from the supermarket, put it in a cooler-box, head into the park, and have a sun-downer? Take a picnic lunch to the park instead of eating at that expensive restaurant. Take the kids for a morning out instead of playing on their iPads all day. You don’t need a big 4x4. You don’t need a package tour. You just need to go.

KWS even organizes shuttle buses from city centre twice a week for people who don’t have cars to go in and enjoy the park with a ranger/guide.

As for the conservancy idea: there still is a huge area of land to the south which is taken up by large cattle-ranches. We’re talking tens of thousands of acres. They’re privately owned, fenced, and the small area between them and the park is where the problem lies. Have a look on google earth. It’s BIG open grassland. The problems arise when you start trying to get all those different stakeholders to look at one unified vision, which at the moment, won’t bring them any extra income. There’s still more open, unfenced, unfarmed land south of Nairobi National Park than there is in the area around the elephant underpass north of Timau (I’ve mentioned it a couple times above).

Collaring lions is a good way to keep track of them, especially if you collar lionesses. Unfortunately, a radio telemetry collar, which requires you to be in range with a radio antenna to track, costs around USD $5000 and will generally only last between 6 – 18 months before the battery goes dead and you have to dart the lion again to remove it an install another. A GPS collar, which if obviously more desirable for MANY reasons, costs upwards of USD $15,000 each and its battery life isn’t much better. So initial cost and maintenance are an issue – but not an insurmountable issue. I personally think, however, that that money would be better spent on securing habitat. KWS reckons there around 40 lions in NNP. 40 x $15,000 = $600,000 (Kshs 60,000,000) - A pretty penny that would go a long way toward securing more habitat or fencing off a corridor to the nearby ranches.

 

I hope I’ve covered all points. I do not pretend to be an “expert” on this matter. I AM quite passionate about Nairobi National Park. It holds a very special place in my heart. I see a lot of uninformed nonsense on social media with everyone literally shouting out their disdain for KWS, shouting out their turn-key, single facet “solutions” to a multifaceted problem. I appreciate how the issue is being discussed in a civilized, measured, and lengthy manner here on ST. I only wish that someone in power could see this discussion.

I also see a LOT of people throwing Richard Leakey’s name around, demanding to know why his voice isn’t being heard, demanding his resignation, demanding to know what he thinks, demanding him to take action. It’s important to remember the following

1. Richard Leakey is the Chairman, not the director. He does not make day-to-day executive, unilateral decisions.

2. Richard Leakey is not God. He is not omnipotent and able to solve every crisis at the click of his fingers.

3. Richard Leakey is not infallible. Everyone seems to think he’s Kenya’s wildlife’s ONLY hope because of what he achieved in the 80’s and 90s at the helm of KWS. He makes mistakes. He has the potential to make bad decisions at times (I’m not pointing to any particular one, I’m just saying the potential is there). And there are many people in the conservation arena who do not agree with all of his policies or ways of thinking. He has historically been ambivalent, and even outright negative, about community participation in conservation – a point I personally take issue with.

4. Richard Leakey is basically a realist. While I don’t necessarily agree with him on all points, one thing he DOES get is that with Kenya’s exploding human population, a growing middle class, a development-focused economy, etc. there will be challenges to our traditional views of conservation. You can either fight a losing battle to hold on to that traditional view, or you can work to ensure that the development continues in the least destructive way. A good example of this is the SGR. There was never any point in fighting whether it should go cut into NNP a little. The real battle was ensuring that it is built in such a way as to minimize the disturbance to wildlife and the ecology of the park. Richard Leakey was instrumental in those discussions to ensure it cut into the park as little as possible, and that most of it would be raised above ground on ‘bridges’ so as not to disturb the ground below.

The idea that the bridges are there to “allow for migration routes” is absurd. The SGR will follow the Eastern boundary of the park. There are no animals migrating East. I believe KWS is being compensated (though probably not nearly enough) for the land lost to the Southern Bypass road and the SGR. I hope they can secure land beyond the current borders of the park to offset what they’re losing to these developments. I’m not holding my breath, though.

A few years ago former politician, John Keen, actually donated around 10 Km squared from the land he owned adjoining the park to increase the size of the park. If only there were more philanthropists like that!

I think I’m done. I’m probably rambling on.

 

@@armchair bushman You were rambling on but in the best way, and absolutely no harm done. That was a very good post. Informed passion with an open mind and no hobby horse.

 

Thanks for a couple of excellent posts in fact. I knew some things, thought I vaguely knew others (and was wrong) and learned quite a few new things.

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Thanks @@pault

I'd like to think I'm right about all this, but I'm just one among MANY who are passionate about this subject. Each has their own perspective, world-view, and set of facts that they can reference. So take it as you will, but keep in mind that mine is only one narrative out of many.

I do hope it's helpful, though.

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The biggest problem in Kenya, is that so much useful land which is in the hands politicians is not used productively; It simply sits idle.Unfortunately,I don't see any sign of this changing very rapidly. This is something that Kenyans are very much aware of.

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I've edited your post @@optig.

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We spent two nights with a full day in between at Nairobi National Park at the tented camp on our arrival to Kenya in January. It was a great start to our safari. We also went to Sheldricks at their 10 AM viewing between our two game drives. We had never been there and it was fun to see and really worthwhile for the reasonable price.

 

As far as fencing the southern boundary, I don't have the expertise to make a judgement on how it would interfere with the biological effects of the wildlife. As with anything, livestock and I'm sure wildlife would be the same, when they are contained in an enclosure they will have to be "managed".

 

If the park is totally fenced and managed appropriately, I personally don't see that the safari experience would be all that different. On our game drives there were times when we felt like we were in a totally wild area, and then you would be in a spot where you could see the skyline of Nairobi and realize you were just a mile or two away from millions of people. No matter whether the park is fenced or not you are not going to avoid the view of the city skyline.

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the tented camp and would not hesitate to do the same thing at the start of our next trip to Kenya. There are not many places you can see black and white rhinos and that alone is worth the stop for us on it's own.

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