More Than Just Lions!!!- Article by Gareth Jones
Much More Than Lions!
The alarm clock buzzed at 05h00, as we awoke to a new day and arrived at the gate just after 06H00. The master plan was to spend the entire day in the park, and just enjoy all of creation, from the smallest to the largest creatures. Well, I have to say it was an amazing day, as our plan manifested into a wonderful reality. As we drove along very slowly there were many natural rewards, with wonderful observations of the many different species that occur in the park.
Some of the roads were a bit rough and damaged due to the previous rains, so we mostly stayed on the main roads. As we drove along very slowly there were many wildlife rewards, a spotted hyena, followed by many zebra and eland, coke’s hartebeest, gazelles, and wildebeest mixed amongst them. Herds of giraffe walked in the road, as well as large herds of buffalo. There were also other sightings of bohor reedbuck and a special sighting of the tiny Suni. We saw 11 different rhinos including a calf. The bird sightings were numerous from Ostrich to Eagles, Vultures, water birds, and many “LBJ’s” – little brown jobs ( a name we give to the many small birds that we could not identify ). We had numerous sightings of lions as well, including two lionesses with cubs, and a young male lion with a wildebeest kill.
After a few hours of wonderful and very interesting sightings and observations of so many different varieties of species, ranging from insects to many birds, to smaller reptilian creatures, to small and large mammals. We had just stopped again to watch some interesting interactions after the rain as many birds were enjoying eating flying ants when another vehicle stopped next to us and straight away the driver asked me rather bluntly “where are the lions”? No pleasant greeting, or any other words, just “where are the lions”? Well, need I say that my answer was rather flat, as I informed the driver that we were “just watching some birds!”.
As we drove on I thought to myself, “if only people visiting the park would rather focus on experiencing the wonders of every creation that is found within the park”. Such an attitude always has the greatest rewards, as even the smallest creatures can be very interesting to watch. In my personal experience, I have been on over 4,600 game drives in the Nairobi National Park, and I have never ever been bored. Each visit simply reminds me of how little I actually know about the incredible creation that God has put on earth and in the case of the Nairobi National Park how awesome it is that such a relatively small 117sqkm area has so much more natural flora and fauna than most people realize, indeed a truly priceless treasure, right next to a major city.
If you are planning a family day in the park, I believe the following basic tips could make your day really fantastic. 1)Try to preplan your food and drinks in advance 2)Use a cooler box with ice packs to keep food and drinks fresh and cold 3)It’s worth waking up very early for a game drive 4)Stop at a picnic site for a meal together 5)Pack a good set of binoculars 6)A map and some basic ID books are useful when seeing various species 7)Having a decent camera helps to enhance the experience as you are able to capture some of your sightings in the form of photos 8)Don’t travel too much, take time to sit and relax at various dams and treed areas 9)Don’t worry about finding lions first, rather focus on enjoying every species and then if a lion sighting happens it will be a special bonus 10)Slow down to the pace of nature and relax!!
As we watched the sunset over the Ngong hills, the tranquil peace over the park was tangible and very real. Indeed the day in the park was a real “soul tonic” medicine for the inner being, an escape from the fast-paced world around us. Who knows what you might see next time you visit the Nairobi National Park? Perhaps as you enjoy the many wonderful creatures and plants some predators like lions might just …” get in your way!”