Nairobi National Park
Nairobi National Park is Kenya’s capital wildlife park situated south of the Nairobi capital and at times referred to as the world’s wildlife capital. Nairobi National Park is situated just about 16km away from the Nairobi capital on an approximate drive time of 30 minutes.
The very short distance from the bustling business capital makes the park very unique and worth being referred to as the world’s wildlife capital.
Its diversity and open grass plains has given a unique backdrop to the city scrapers. The park was officially opened in 1946, and was the first national park established in Kenya.
The city close Nairobi National Park is fenced on three sides. However, the southern boundary is open allowing migratory wildlife to move between the park and the adjacent Kitengela plains.
Despite its relatively small size (covers an area of 117.21 square kilometers/45.26 sq. mi), Nairobi National Park hosts various wildlife populations and is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries. In altitude, the park ranges between 1,533 and 1,760 m (5,030 and 5,774 ft.) therefore making it easy to visit.
Wildlife in Nairobi National Park
Within the scattered acacia bush of the Nairobi National Park, is a variety of wildlife some of which are, the endangered black rhinos. Because of the presence of rhinos, it is sometimes referred to as the Kifaru Ark which means “Rhinoceros Sanctuary” since it is one of Kenya’s most successful rhinoceros sanctuaries.
The park has a diverse wildlife population with species found in the park including the African buffalo, eastern black rhinoceros, baboons, gazelle, Grant’s Zebra, cheetah, Coke’s hartebeest, hippopotamus, lions, African leopard, common eland, impala, Masai giraffe and waterbuck.
There are over 100 mammal species in the park, four of the Big Five (lion, Buffalo, leopard and rhino). There is a spectacular wildebeest and zebra migration that uses the Kitengela Conservation area and migratory corridor to the south of the park to reach the Athi-Kapiti plains. Large predators like lions, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs can be seen in the park.
Bird species in the Park
There is a high diversity of bird species within the park, up to 500 permanent and migratory species. The dams have created a man-made habitat for birds and aquatic species. Nairobi National Park probably gives Kenya’s capital the longest check bird list of all world cities. Some of the bird species that can be spotted include the restricted range Jackson’s widowbird which breeds in the park regularly after good rains. Other grassland birds include ostriches, secretary birds and bustards. The Black-headed heron, Blacksmith lapwing, Common moorhen, Long-tailed fiscal and many more.
Best Time to Visit Nairobi National Park
The best time to see wildlife in the park is during the dry season when the concentration of wildlife in the park is greatest. Small dams built along the Mbagathi River give the park more water resources than these outside areas which attract water dependent herbivores during the dry season. The wildebeest and zebras migrate during July and August. They disperse over the plains in the wet season and return to the park in the dry season. The dry season is mainly in the months of December to February and June to October.
The David Sheldrick Trust runs a sanctuary in the park that takes care of orphaned elephant and rhinoceros calves. After a certain period of time taking care of these orphaned elephant and rhino calves they are later released back into secure sanctuaries. The sanctuary is situated just close to the park’s main entrance.