How my affair started! .. (with the Nairobi National Park)

Posted on December 2nd, 2010
Categories: News

My “Affair” began over 14 years ago, I had just returned to Kenya and waiting to start work.  A few days a week were spent in the park.  On one of my visits I met Jim Cavanagh a retired vet and Nairobi Park Lion oficionado, he had named all the lions and did a regular update sheet. I was bitten by the bug and became great friends with Jim. So started my love of NairobI Park lions.

At that time we had at least 12 cheetah and over 40 lions. Both Zebra and Wildebeest migrated into the park in their thousands.  I used to come in with my late mother, who was suffering from dementia, a treasured memory springs to mind, we had taken a picnic and flask of coffee and were ambling round the park, a lucky day, 6 cheetah, 15 lions, 9 rhinos and lots more, she was thrilled, but as we left the park she said “well that was a waste of time and money!” 

“Hows that mum” I asked …”We never saw a damn thing!!!”  Needless to say I couldnt speak for laughing, bless her.

The park has changed and yes there is less game because of the urban expansion, however, its still a gem.  There are at least 4 picnic sites where you can get out and relax, but lots of other beautiful spots where you can sit and enjoy the views. 

I always like to take visitors in, especially new ones to Africa, they make you realise just what you are missing and take for granted, as you drive along searching for something to impress them, you get  shouts of “stop, stop” you expect to find a lion or a leopard judging by the level of excitement, frantically searching for what you have missed only to find its a zebra or a giraffe. The excitement is catching and slowly you too open your eyes to things you would have driven past without a second glance.

There are over 30 lions in the park, 10 white Rhino, KWS say over 50 Black Rhino, they are all there, you just need to find them, but whilst your searching take it all in, I have to say that early morning is the best time, most of the animals especially the cats are active at that time, gate opens at 6.00am, take your breakfast and coffee, alternatively try 4.30pm after the sun starts to cool down, however, having said that I have seen a lioness hunting at 1.00pm lunch time, you just never know.

I am lucky, there are my Nairobi Park “friends network” we are always in touch and sms each other with updates and spots, I am often called asking where the lions are, I can only point them in the general direction. I spot a lion walking along road at 7.00am, within 5 mins they have managed to cover 2 km, in a night more than 12 km, they wander far and wide, I have even had them 50m from main gate attracted by the roars from the Animal Orphanage.  I have watched the current generation of lions grow from 3 week old cubs to fully grown aspiring Kings and mothers.

Currently we have at least 5 Big Males, a lioness with 4 large cubs, another with 3, another 2 with 2 and a few others, there has been a couple of females on heat and “harusis”  (Swahili for weddings), so we should have “new arrivals” in the not too distant future.  I cant say I know each and everyone of the lions, but I do recognise a few.

Must be because I am a Leo and Oh by the way I married a Leo too!

By Dave McKelvie