CONSERVATION

Senior citizens to get free one month access to Nairobi park

On December 16, the park will commemorate 75 years since it was established

In Summary

•Nairobi National Park was established on December 16, 1946, to conserve and protect the wildlife that was under great threat from hunting exploits by traders, prospectors and pioneer settlers, then the British colony.

•It covers 29,000 acres with Balala saying some 2,000 more acres have been added to it after the National government donated what used to be a sheep and goats research facility.

Wildlife PS Fred Sigor, CS Najib Balala and KWS DG John Waweru during launch of 75th annivasery of Nairobi National Park at KWS headquarters on November 25, 2021/ANDREW KASUKU
Wildlife PS Fred Sigor, CS Najib Balala and KWS DG John Waweru during launch of 75th annivasery of Nairobi National Park at KWS headquarters on November 25, 2021/ANDREW KASUKU

Senior citizens aged 75 years and above will for one month visit Nairobi National Park for free.

Tourism CS Najib Balala said on Thursday this was as part of build-up events towards the commemoration of Nairobi National Park's 75th anniversary.

Balala said senior citizens will be accompanied by one person of their choice and a driver of their vehicle.

He said the policy will be reviewed so that those aged 75 and above will not be charged every day.

"We will have free entry for the first 75 visitors to the park on December 16, 2021," he said.

The CS made the announcement at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters, Lang'ata Road, during a media briefing.

Balala said persons living with disabilities will also have free access to the Nairobi Safari Walk as well as the Nairobi Animal Orphanage for the next one month, starting Thursday.

He was accompanied by Wildlife PS Fred Segor and KWS Director General John Waweru.

Tourism CS Najib Balala during launch of 75th annivasery of Nairobi National Park at KWS headquarters on November 25, 2021/ANDREW KASUKU
Tourism CS Najib Balala during launch of 75th annivasery of Nairobi National Park at KWS headquarters on November 25, 2021/ANDREW KASUKU

Nairobi National Park was established on December 16, 1946, to conserve and protect the wildlife that was under great threat from hunting exploits by traders, prospectors and pioneer settlers, then the British colony.

It covers 29,000 acres, with Balala saying 2,000 more acres have been added to it after the national government donated what used to be a sheep and goats research facility.

He said this has increased the acreage to 31,000.

Balala said the research facility, which is located on the southern side of the park, has provided a wildlife corridor to interconnect the park with Swara and the International Livestock Research Institute in Machakos.

The park hosts more than 100 mammals and 400 bird species as well as an array of environmental biodiversity such as plains, forests, a tree-lined watercourse and deep rocky gorges.

Thomson’s gazelles, Maasai giraffes, elands, impalas, ostriches, jackals, warthogs and waterbucks are other species roaming the park.

The park has more than 45 lions. It also has leopards, cheetahs and hyenas.

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

The park is unique as it is located a few kilometres from the CBD.

It however has several challenges.

This includes habitat loss and fragmentation in the dispersal areas, the 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.

Balala said more than 2,500 tree seedlings have been planted in the park.

He said plans are in place to organise lion tracking and set up a photo gallery at the park detailing achievements since its establishment.

Balala said plans are at an advanced stage to roll out a new revenue system set to be piloted in Nairobi Park, Amboseli and Nakuru.

He also announced that all the parks will have their own identity and brands.

"On December 16, 2021, we will have a new brand logo for Nairobi National Park."

Balala said Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and other parks will have their logos.

"We also want to improve the customer experience while entering our parks. We are making all entries to be electronic and on December 1, Nairobi National Park will be a pilot," he said.

The CS said the KWS board of trustees will soon be announced.

Balala said the challenges facing the park are set to be cured by an already gazetted management plan.

Amboseli, Maasai Mara and conservancies in the area have a management plan.

The CS said KWS was compensated for land ceded to SGR and the roads.

"That amount of money almost Sh4 billion was deposited in the endowment fund of KWS and is earning interest for KWS. That endowment fund is never touched, only proceeds when we have challenges," he said.

Edited by A.N