TWO WHITES FROM MERU

Nairobi National Park gets more rhinos to boost visitor experience

KWS uses the park as a rhino sanctuary for feeding other populations

In Summary
  • A patch of two rhinos translocated from Meru National Park were received on August 8.
  • The black rhino is usually solitary, while the white rhino tends to be more social and noticeable.
Two of the last remaining northern white rhinos in the world, females Najin and Fatu, feed on carrots at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county on August 23. Image: MOSES MWANGI
Two of the last remaining northern white rhinos in the world, females Najin and Fatu, feed on carrots at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county on August 23. Image: MOSES MWANGI

The Nairobi National Park has received two white rhinos from Meru National Park in a bid to boost visitor experience.

KWS Southern Conservation area assistant director Lekishon Kenana told the Star on Tuesday that more translocations were ongoing.

“The white rhinos are more visible for tourism. They will help boost visitor experience,” Kenana said.

He said the white rhinos are grazers and are found in more open habitats.

They are a bit more social than the black rhino, he said.

A patch of two rhinos was received on August 8.

The number of rhinos set to be moved could not be revealed due to security reasons.

The Southern Conservation area covers Nairobi National Park, Ol Donyo Sabuk, Amboseli, and all lands in between where communities and wildlife are found.

Kajiado, Machakos, Kiambu and Nairobi counties make up the conservation area.

Nairobi Park has a healthy population of Black Rhino and a growing White Rhino population.

Kenana said the rhinos have to be transported with care and caution.

Once they reach, they are released and are continually monitored to establish how they settle.

He said the two who have since been translocated are settling well.

“They really have to traverse going far and wide before they settle down and find a suitable territory. We are still monitoring them to know the territories they will occupy.”

The black rhino is usually solitary, while the white rhino tends to be more social.

The black rhino is a browser.

Its triangular-shaped upper lip, which ends in a grasping point, is used to eat a large variety of vegetation—including leaves; buds; and shoots of plants, bushes and trees.

It can be found in various habitats that have dense, woody vegetation.

The white rhino lives in savannahs, which have water holes, mud wallows, shade trees, and the grasses they graze on.

Kenana said the Nairobi National Park is an important rhino sanctuary forming a nucleus for feeding the other populations.

The park, he said, is where KWS uses to restore the population of rhinos in other areas.

The park has breath-taking fauna and flora.

It is home to an estimated 400 permanent and migratory bird species, the African buffalo, baboons, the Eastern black rhinoceros, the Southern white rhino, zebras and Grant's gazelle.

Other animal species that roam the park are Thomson’s gazelles, Maasai giraffes, elands, impalas, ostriches, jackals, warthogs and waterbucks.

The park has more than 45 lions among carnivores, such as leopards, cheetahs and hyenas.

Hippopotamuses also inhabit the Mbagathi River, while crocodiles reside in the dams.

KWS under a new management plan intends to give the park a facelift as one way of boosting the visitor experience.

The top 12 challenges facing the park include habitat loss and fragmentation in the dispersal areas, decline in wildlife population, poaching, human-wildlife conflicts, alien and invasive species, pollution, mining and quarries.

Others are climate change, low park visitation, increased urbanisation, settlement threats on the sheep and goats ranch, and infrastructure development.

KWS says a lot of work is lined up for the park.

This includes fencing, a high-end eco-lodge, improvement of infrastructure and development of KWS Club House high-end restaurant (Orpul Place).

Other activities include designing and establishment of adventure activity concessions, and facilitation of alternative activities to traditional game-viewing.

KWS is considering improving park habitat, coupled with progressively fencing willing landowners in the park’s buffer zone.

Kenana said they have a very vibrant population of both black rhinos and white rhinos adding that the population is doing well.

However, he could not reveal the population of rhinos in the 117 square kilometre park gazetted in 1946.

Even though rhinos are doing well, there are still challenges.

Kenana said the carrying capacity is an immediate challenge adding that rhinos are very territorial.

“The males are territorial and normally when they grow and reach a certain age they start forming their own territories, to guard their resources and this creates fights.

"The fights are a very common occurrence and the stronger ones will displace the less fit ones,” he said.

Rhino fights are indicators that the carrying capacity has been exceeded and management should take action.

Some of the actions include translocations to other areas.

Kenana said they have had several incidents where rhinos fights are sometimes fatal. Others could get injured or break their horns.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

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