AFRICANGLOBE – As I reached the end of the long straight section of dirt road coming from the Ivory Burning site, I looked over the plains. In the distance, over one kilometre away, near the fenceline, a herd of Kongoni were feeding.
To their left, a whitish shape appeared in the long grass. The shape disappeared and then reappeared. As first I thought it might be a Kori Bustard bird, then after looking through the binoculars, my heart leaped! It was a cheetah! I drove closer and had a sighting of this cheetah stalking and chasing a herd of Kongoni.
If only this was recently, but sadly, it was in January 2012 and the last cheetah cub sighting was about four years ago. Yes, cheetahs are the rarest cats in the Nairobi National Park.
It is difficult to estimate the number of cheetahs in the park, however we believe that there are currently not more than two. In previous years, the park had a healthy population but sadly, changes to their favourable environment have caused them to rapidly decline over a period of less than ten years.
Even though cheetahs are fast efficient hunters reaching speeds of close to 100kph, they are very sensitive to human developments and also easily threatened by other large predators.
Cheetahs are best seen early morning or late afternoon, but are often active on cloudy cool days. So to see a cheetah in the Nairobi park is a very special thing.
It has be reported that there is a fairly heath- ly population of more than 20 cheetahs south of the Nairobi National Park on the Athi-Kapiti plains.
It is hoped by many that the Kenya Wildlife Services will find a way of re-introducing other cheetahs into the park. It would be very sad if cheetahs are no longer resident in the Nairobi National Park.
By: Gareth Jones