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Nairobi NP - 60th Anniversary

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  Jan Friday, 12 January 2007 01:53

Nairobi NP - 60th Anniversary

Branding of Nairobi National Park and 60th Anniversary

 The World's only wildlife Capital... and so much more.  The 117-square kilometre Nairobi National Park, gazetted 60 years ago, is the jewel in the crown of Kenya’s conservation initiatives.

Born officially on December 16, 1946, the park’s gestation had been long and far from smooth. Indeed it marked the fulfilment of a dream and the dawn of a new era in conservation.

Setting aside a prime expanse of land for wild animals was no easier then than it is today and in the foreseeable future. The man most responsible for establishing Nairobi National Park and the rest of Kenya’s national park conservation system was the late Mervyn Cowie.

Although the area it occupies is a mere backyard compared with the 20,000 square kilometres of the Tsavo ecosystem, it is the only capital city national park in Africa.

Indeed, it provides not only the ideal introduction to the Kenyan safari circuit but also the ultimate escape from the bustle of city life.

But its size belies its importance. There is no other capital city in the world that boasts of a natural wilderness teeming with wildlife and home to over 40 species of reptiles and amphibians and over 500 plant species, just 10 minutes-drive from the city centre.

For many people, a visit to the park is their first experience of seeing the lion, cheetah and rhino in a natural setting.

The park is Kenya’s wildlife shop window and with more than 400 bird species, at least 20 of which are seasonal European migrants, more than 100 mammal species (four of the Big Five—lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino), the spectacular wildebeest and zebra migration. Only the elephant is absent.

Kenya’s first national park is an important breeding ground for black rhinos. It not only plays a critical role in national rhino reintroduction in other conservation areas programme but also acts as a good show place for black rhinos where they are easily visible in an open habitat.

An oasis of lion-gold plains, acacia-fringed rivers, leopard-stalked cliffs, plunging gorges and murky hippo pools, this versatile park hosts its own wildebeest migration. It is the only place in the world where you can find a black rhino browsing against the silhouettes of the city office blocks and skyscrapers.

It is also the site of former President Daniel arap Moi’s dramatic ivory bonfire, when in 1989 he torched 60 tons of ivory. This was an effort to eliminate the mass slaughter of African elephants for their tusks.

Pick of the picnic sites
The park’s more than 250 km road network is in reasonable condition and can be used by 2WD vehicles all year round. However, some sections may require 4WD during rainy seasons.

Minutes away from the city centre, easily accessed, and offering a clearly signposted road network, the park makes an ideal day trip venue abounding in specially created picnic spots.

Impala Observation Point and Picnic Site: High on a hill and minutes from the main gate, this site offers a stone-built rondvale with panoramic views and a picnic area (with shaded picnic benches) and latrines.

Ivory burning site: Close to the main gate, this area marks the spot where, in 1989, former President Daniel arap Moi set alight 60 tons of stockpiled ivory in an attempt to stop the mass slaughter of African elephants.

An estimated 850 million people watched the TV coverage of the event which is believed to have made a major contribution to the subsequent total worldwide ban on ivory trading imposed by the CITES treaty. Now a popular picnic site, the Ivory Burning Site offers a broad area of open grass, picnic tables, shades and latrines.

Kingfisher Picnic Site: A cool shaded area with picnic tables, ideal for early morning bush breakfasts, lunchtime relaxation and evening sundowners.

Mokoyeti Picnic Site: An open cliff-top site with thatch-roof shaded picnic tables, latrines and extensive parking. This is an ideal site for family picnics at any time of the day. Baboons and rock hyraxes are usually seen at Mokoyeti.

Leopard Cliff Observation Point: A simple clearing reached by a minor diversion from the main road that leads through the park to Cheetah Gate. This observation point offers fine panoramas as well as a small lookout with vistas into the rocky gorge below. However, there are no picnic benches, shaded areas or latrines at this site.

By prior arrangement with the Senior Warden’s office picnic sites may be booked for weddings, parties and business meetings.

The Hippo Pools and Nature Trail: In the east of the park, amid the meandering coils of Athi River, lie the hippo pools. Here, groups of hippos wallow in the river, emerging to graze the river banks at night. Terrapins and Nile crocodiles on the exposed mud banks and the surrounding woodland features vervet monkeys and Defassa waterbucks. As to birdlife, a colourful selection of pigeons, barbets and starlings feed on the fruiting African fig trees that line the river bank while the acacia trees are the favourite roost for white-backed and Ruppell’s griffon vultures.

Picnic site and riverside nature trail: Adjacent to the hippo pools is a spacious picnic area with a shaded rondvale-style picnic shelter, benches, running water and latrines. Shady benches also punctuate the short and popular self-guided nature trail, which is usually patrolled by KWS rangers and leads out of the picnic area to follow a 1-km (20-minute) circuit along the river. Visitors are required to leave the hippo pools by 5.15 pm.

Other special features around the park: The Nairobi Safari Walk, the Animal Orphanage, The Kifaru Ark Shop, and the Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (which includes a library and museum). The park also offers two restaurants, Sebastian’s SafariWalk Café and Rangers Restaurant (overlooking a floodlit waterhole).

Open: Daily 6-7pm, including public holidays.
No entry is allowed into the park on foot, and visitors are not allowed entry after 6.15pm.

Current entry charges:

 Ksh. 200
 Ksh. 100
 Ksh. 50
 Ksh. 1000
 Ksh. 500

SmartCard required? Entry is by SmartCard only. SmartCards may be obtained and loaded at the main gate (Langata Road).

The Senior Warden, Nairobi National Park,
P.O. Box 42076, 00100, Nairobi.
Telephone Number: 254-020-602121or 603769
Fax: 254-020-600324;
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Fact File on Nairobi National Park

Distance from Central Business District: 8 km
Location: Langata Road, just before Bomas of Kenya
Opening hours: 6 am to 7pm
Animals in the park: Buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, baboon, zebra, wildebeest, cheetah
Size: 117 square kilometres
Gazettement: December, 16, 1946. Official notice signed by Sir Philip Mitchell
Facilities: Six picnic sites, nature trail and education centre