National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
About National Parks and Reserves in Kenya
In many respects, Kenya makes the perfect safari destination both for locals and for the ever growing number who visit Kenya. It certainly has enormous touring resources. There are no less than sixty National Parks, Reserves and Game Sanctuaries which cover approximately 11% of the total surface area of Kenya. Kenya is a theater to experience the wild in whichever direction you take; in the vast savannah plains that spread over 40% of Kenya, in the semi-arid desert environments which cover 3o% of Kenya, in the highlands which cover 20% of Kenya, or at the coastal strip which covers 10% of Kenya. The sharp contrast in environments is responsible for variety in range of Kenya’s spectacular reserves
Protected areas in Kenya are comprised of National Parks, Reserves and Game Sanctuaries administered by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as well as gazetted Forest Reserves, which are managed by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). The KWS-administered areas are protected for wildlife conservation and comprise 8% of the country. The gazetted Forest Reserves comprise another 2% of Kenya. 80% percent of these forests are natural, while the remainder are plantations. Despite this allotment of protected land, about 70% of the nation’s biodiversity resources are found outside of National Parks and Reserves and remain at risk. Kenya is endowed with tremendous biodiversity. It has about 2,500 species of animals to include: 1,133 birds, 315 mammals, 191 reptiles, 180 freshwater fish, 692 marine and brackish fish, and 88 amphibians. It has 7,000 vascular plants species and more than 2,000 fungi and bacteria. 1,100 vascular plant species, 14 mammalian and 8 bird species are endemic to Kenya. 113 bird, 51 mammals, 8 amphibians and reptiles, and 26 fish types are either endangered or threatened.
History of Parks and Reserves in Kenya
In all, there are 60 National Parks and Reserves in Kenya and the traveller may be assured that whether one is exploring the shimmering savanna in the heart of Nairobi, driving through the semi-desert steppe of Northern Kenya or merely admiring the alpine flora and lush greenery in the mountains of Central Kenya, he will enjoy many opportunities for exploration and interesting driving and as fine game viewing as can be sighted anywhere in Africa. The interest in official protection of Kenya’s wilder places and its prolific wildlife was commensurate with the emergence of the British imperial rule in the 1890s. Needless, perhaps, to point out, is that the native communities in the 1800s and in recent history used wildlife for food, with hardly any evidence of monetary benefits, favouring the coexistence between early humans and wildlife. Big game hunting safaris, however high-sounding the pursuit, and the subjugation of wildlife to poaching and ivory hunting influenced trading in wildlife resources, nudged forward the importance to safeguard Kenya’s great interests and inlay laws and regulations.
In 1945, the Government passed the National Parks Ordinance which paved the way for launching more protected areas. This was followed by the establishment of Nairobi Royal Park in 1945. By 1956, there were two bodies responsible for fauna conservation in Kenya – the Game Department and the Trustees of the National Parks – a game or national reserve proclaimed to protect an area of particular faunal interest. Forest Reserves were under the control of the Forest Department. The Wildlife Management Act of 1976 sought to bring all these institutions, other than those under Forest Department, under one authority. The difference between a National Park and National Reserve is historical and somewhat irrelevant today, with these differences in mind: A National Park is fenced off and no other form of land use is permitted in such areas while in a National Reserve the land is used by the public and is unfenced, where limited grazing is usually permitted. Also, a National Park is managed by the National Government, while a National Reserve is managed by the County Governments.
Safari in National Parks & Reserves in Kenya
The wildebeest, or gnu, bring us to the largest migration of mammalian order to be found on the African savannas. Embracing close to two million animals, the great annual wildebeest migration constitutes, by sheer weight of numbers, one of the great wonders of the natural world and one of Africa’s most breathtaking wonders. A glance at the life of the wildebeest world may fill with despair those who hope for a fulfillment of the pledge that the lion shall one day lie down with the lamb. Only by the making of war by the carnivores, the masterly predators of the savanna, and the struggle for existence in which the weakest link and the weak are mercilessly obliterated, is the circle of life in African wilds maintained and perpetuated. Only through the occurrence of those silent and far-reaching tragedies in nature where those numbers are swept in unnumbered millions to swift destruction, can man maintain his place in life. This inexorable cruelty of nature’s law is, in the last resort, man’s cardinal defense against wild creatures. This is a cardinal prescience to carry with you to every National Parks in Kenya.
It is a strange and grim cycle of alternating prosperity and adversity that keeps balance of the wild. We have among these creatures, far advanced in the scale of evolution, organized into three broad family groups. The first makes attack its means of defense and its method of maintaining its existence. The second trusts to speed, brill agility, or to that deceptive appearance called “protective mimicry”. This, of course, is the largest group, which is subdivided into many groups. The third trusts its armor, or outer protective garment, to protect itself from any imminent danger. The immense area covered by National Parks and Reserves in Kenya is a convincing answer to those who wish to observe these varied species in their original surroundings and best fitted habitations. A lens into the savage and brutal elegance of nature, governed by simple rasping rules.
- Lake Baringo National Reserve, Lake Bogoria National Reserve, South-Western Mau National Reserve, Rimoi National Reserve, Lake Kamnarok
- Mount Kenya National Park, Mwea National Reserve, Bour-Algi Giraffe Sanctuary, Rahole National Reserve, Arawale National Reserves
- Boni National Reserve, Ruma National Park, Bisanadi National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Shaba National Reserve
- Amboseli National Park, Kakamega National Reserve, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, Watamu Marine National Park, Malindi Marine Reserve
- Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Ndere Island National Park, Mwingi National Reserve, South Kitui National Reserve, Shimba Hills National Reserve
- Diani-Chale Marine National Reserve, Kisite Mpunguti National Marine Park and Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kiunga Marine National Reserve, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park
- Chyulu Hills National Park, Ngai Ndeithia National Reserve, Malka Mari National Park, Losai National Reserve, South Island National Park
- Marsabit National Reserve and Park, Sibiloi National Park, Meru National Park, Mombasa Marine National Reserve and Park, Nairobi National Park
- Mount Longonot National Park, Crescent Island Game Sanctuary, Hell’s Gate National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Bonjoge National Reserve
- Masai Mara National Reserve, Aberdare National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Maralal Game Reserve, Lake Kanyaboli National Reserve
- Kora National Park, Tana Primate National Reserve, Tsavo East & Tsavo West National Parks, Mutejwa National Reserve
- Mount Elgon National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Central Island National Park, South Turkana National Reserve, Nasolot National Reserve