Sprawling over an area of 117 sq km, barely 7 km from Kenyan capital and one of the largest cities in Africa, Nairobi, the Nairobi National Park is home to over 100 mammals, ranging from lions, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, leopards, rhinos, giraffes, deer, and zebras and over 400 species of birds.
The Park is fenced on three sides and the southern side has been left open to allow migrating wildlife to move between the park and the Kitengela plains.
On December 16, 2021, the park turns 75 and a series of celebrations have been organised by the Kenyan government to mark the occasion, with the main ceremony taking place today at Kisembe Glade within the park. The wildlife officials say that anniversary is an important reminder for others about the need to conserve and the Nairobi National Park serves as a role model to other metropolises around the world on how wildlife or biodiversity is not something just for the remote rural areas, but even vibrant and thriving cities can be proactively involved in conservation efforts. Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS) Najib Balala says the country is proud to have such an attractive wildlife habitat located a few kilometers from the Capital city’s Central Business District
“Obviously, it is no mean achievement to maintain and sustain such a critical facility located in a vibrant capital city and regional hub with so many competing land uses and economic interests,” he says.
To mark the historic anniversary, the Kenyan government has prepared a whole host of events and activities. These include free entry for 30 days for senior citizens of 75 years and above, accompanied by a companion of their choice, a driver and their vehicles.
Today, the first 75 visitors to the park today would also be given free entry as would be for the disabled in the Safari Walk and Animal Orphanage. The NNP also unveils a new logo today. The day’s activities include lion tracking and tree planting.
A photo exhibition, retelling the story of the Park and its evolution over the past 75 years, has also been set up to mark the occasion, while a selfie campaign, encouraging local and international tourists to take photos of their experiences in the park while tagging the wildlife service has been set up.
Keeping the park alive and thriving in the context of booming population as well as climate change has been a challenge, but Kenyan authorities say they have managed to maintain the balance between human and animal needs. Balala says the NNP being a small park of about 29,000 acres next to a fast growing capital city has brought with it unique challenges that the government was aware of and committed to tackle quickest possible.
“Last year, NNP acquired more land after the National Government surrendered 2,000 acres of what used to be a Sheep and Goats Research Facility bringing the acreage to 31,000 under KWS protection,” he said, adding that the additional wildlife space is a major boost to the park that recently lost some land to transport infrastructure projects.
Barely 200 km south of Nairobi lies Amboseli, one of the most popular National Parks in Kenya. Spread over almost 400 sqkm, the park is rich in biodiversity, has a large population of a wide variety of animals and offers fantastic views of Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, that remains snowcapped through the year.