Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Lions, Rhinos, and Hyenas - Oh My: Blog by Kai
Due to limited internet access, Kai has asked me to post this entry.
I have spent the past few days at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya. It is the most visited park in Kenya, mainly due to the fact that it has the most biodiverse mammal population and is a famous birdwatching site. The park is about 200km2 and is home to both black and white rhino, lions, leopards, hyenas and most other large African mammal species. It is famous for its enormous flamingo population, which ranges from 50,000 to one million individuals depending upon the season. Our goal in entering the park was to perform a transect count of the mammals and input that data into the statistical program SPSS. We performed the count today, and will be analyzing the data upon return to base camp. Our primary focus is to see where the mammals make their habitat preferences, and how the makeup of the park has changed since it was completely fenced in due to population encroachment about thirty years ago.
The park was facing similar problems to those that the Nairobi National Park is facing now, and due to intense human-wildlife conflicts, no other option was seen but to fence it in. This has, however, not occurred without consequence. Because the populations were isolated, they have often been forced to interbreed, and we have heard stories of buffalo with fifth arms growing from their chins that have had to be shot, and other such genetic mutations. Our overarching goal between the Nairobi National Park and the Lake Nakuru Park is to see why Nakuru was unable to survive as an open ecosystem, and if those mistakes can be avoided when it comes to Nairobi.