Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Amboseli National Park


Amboseli lies immediately North West of Mt. Kilimanjaro, on the border with Tanzania. Amboseli was established as a reserve in 1968 and gazetted as a National Park in 1974. The Park covers 392 km2, and forms part of the much larger 3,000 Km2 Amboseli ecosystem. Large concentrations of wildlife occur here in the dry season, making Amboseli a popular tourist destination. It is surrounded by 6 communally owned group ranches. The National Park embodies 5 main wildlife habitats (open plains, acacia woodland, rocky thorn bush country, swamps and marshland) and covers part of a pleistocene lake basin, now dry. Within this basin is a temporary lake, Lake Amboseli, that floods during years of heavy rainfall. Amboseli is famous for its big game and its great scenic beauty - the landscape is dominated by MT Kilimanjaro.

On the border with Tanzania, Kajiado District, South Kenya; Covers 392km2
The climate is mainly hot and dry. Amboseli is in the rain shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The maximum average temperature of the warmest month is 33°C during the day, while that of the coldest is 27-28°C. An annual rainfall of 300mm per annum is distributed in two seasons: April/May and November/December. Recurrent droughts and potential evaporation of 2200mm per annum typifies the region (KWS, 1991)
The main road into the Park is from Nairobi are via Namanga (240 km) on the Nairobi - Arusha Road, via Meshanani Gate. The road is tarmac upto Namanga but is badly corrugated and potholed in places from Namanga to Meshanani Gate (75km). The other road and via Emali (228 km) on the Nairobi - Mombasa Road. The road is tarmac up to Emali and murram from Emali to Remito Gate (64 km) Access from Mombasa is mainly through Tsavo West via Kimana (Olkelunyiet) Gate.

The park has a single airstrip for light aircraft at Empusel gate. Other airstrips exist at Kilimanjaro Buffalo lodge and Namanga town.

Park Roads:
Viewing roads network covers the park adequately. Many of the park viewing roads are not usable during the rains and because of the loose ashy nature of volcanic soil, the roads become very dusty during the dry season.
Park Gates
The park has five gates, Kelunyiet, lremito, Ilmeshanan; Kitirua and Airstrip.

Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mt. Meru
Observation Hill which allows an overall view of the whole park especially the swamps and elephants,
Contemporary Maasai culture and indigenous lifestyle

Kilima Safari Camp  Oltukai Lodge; Amboseli Serena Lodge; Kimana Lodge; Tortilis Tented Lodge.
kilima Safari Camp Nairushari Special; Olgulului Public Campsite; Abercrombie & Kent Tented Camp; Ker & Downy Tented Camp; Chyulu Tented Camp; Kimbla Campsite; Cottar's Tented Camp; Leopard Tented Camp; Tortilis Tented Camp.

Wildlife viewing
Python, Turtles, Tortoise, Black Mamba, Cobra.
Scorpions, Butterflies, Dragon flies, May flies, Grasshopper.
Major Animals
Aardwolf; Ant Bear; Baboon, Yellow; Bat, Angola Free-tailed; Bat, Banana; Bat, Epauletted Fruit; Bat, False Vampire; Bat, Hollow-faced; Bat, Lander's Horseshoe; Bat, Lesser Leaf-nosed; Bat, Rousette Fruit; Bat, White-bellied Free-tailed; Bat, Yellow-bellied; Bat, Yellow-winged; Buffalo, African; BushBaby; Bushbuck; Caracal; Cat, African Wild; Cheetah; Civet, African; Dik-dik, Kirk's; Dog, Hunting; Dormouse, African; Duiker, Red; Eland; Elephant, African; Fox, Bat-eared; Gazelle, Grant's; Gazelle, Thomson's; Genet, Large-spotted; Genet, Small-spotted; Gerenuk; Giraffe, Masai; Gnu, White-bearded; Hare, African; Hare, Spring; Hartebeest, Coke's; Hedgehog, East African; Hippopotamus; Hyaena, Spotted; Hyaena, Striped; Hyrax, Rock; Hyrax, Tree; Impala; Jackal, Black-backed; Jackal, Golden; Jackal, Side-striped; Klipspringer; Kudu, Lesser; Leopard; Lion; Mongoose, Banded; Mongoose, Dwarf; Mongoose, Large Grey; Mongoose, Marsh; Mongoose, Slender; Mongoose, White-tailed; Monkey, Black-faced Vervet; Monkey, Sykes; Oryx, Fringe-eared; Porcupine, Crested; Ratel; Reedbuck, Bohor; Rhinoceros, Black; Serval; Shrew, Giant White-toothed; Shrew, Short-snouted ; Shrew, Spectacled Elephant; Squirrel, Bush; Squirrel, Striped Ground; Squirrel, Unstriped Ground; Steinbok; Warthog; Waterbuck, Common; Zebra, Common.
Major Birds
Apalis, Black-breasted; Apalis, Red-faced; Avocet; Babbler, Black-lored; Babbler, Northern Pied; Barbet, Brown-throated; Barbet, D'Arnaud's; Barbet, Red and Yellow; Barbet, Red-fronted; Barbet, Spotted-flanked; Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked; Bee-eater, European; Bee-eater, Little; Bee-eater, Madagascar; Bee-eater, White-throated; Bishop, Yellow; Bishop, Yellow-crowned; Bittern, Dwarf; Bittern, Little; Bonbon, Slate-coloured; Bonbon, Tropical; Brownbul, Northern; Brubru, Northern; Bulbul, Yellow-vented; Bunting, Cinnamon-breasted; Bunting, Golden-breasted; Bush Shrike, Grey-headed; Bush Shrike; Bustard, Black-bellied; Bustard, Buff-crested; Bustard, Hartlaub's; Bustard, Jackson's; Bustard, Kori; Bustard, White-bellied; Buzzard, Augur; Buzzard, Grasshopper; Buzzard, Honey; Buzzard, Lizard; Buzzard, Steppe; Camaroptera, Grey-backed; Canary, Brimstone; Canary, Kenya Grosbeak; Canary, White-bellied; Canary, Yellow-fronted; Chat, Anteater; Chat, Cliff; Chatterer, Rufous; Cisticola, Pectoral-patch; Cisticola, Rattling; Cisticola, Winding; Coot, Red-knobbed; Cordonbleu, Blue-capped; Cordonbleu, Red-cheeked; Coucal, Blue-headed; Coucal, White-browed; Courser, Heuglin's; Courser, Temminck's; Courser, Two-banded; Crake, Black; Crane, Crowned; Crombee; Crombee, Red-faced; Crow, Pied; Cuckoo; Cuckoo, Black; Cuckoo, Black and White; Cuckoo, Didric; Cuckoo, Emerald; Cuckoo, Great-spotted; Cuckoo, Klaas'; Cuckoo, Levaillant's; Cuckoo, Red-chested; Curlew, Spotted Stone.

The national park embodies several types of semi-arid vegetation and swampland/marshland. In general there is a gradient of vegetation from the bare lake bed, through grassland to Acacia woodland following a North -North West to South - South East pattern sandwiching the permanent swamps.
Water flowing underground from Mt. Kilimanjaro upwells in a series of lush swamps and marshland which support sedges of Cyprus spp., including Cyprus papyrus and that provide dry season water and forage for wildlife.
These swamps are flanked by tracts of acacia woodland with yellow-barked acacia, Acacia xanthophloea and Acacia tortilis. Acacia tortilis also occurs in the southern part of the park along on drainage lines.
The basin is surrounded by acacia/commiphora bushland while the level floor of open plains with saline/alkaline soils supports thickets of Salvadora persica and Suaeda monoica. Grasses include needlegrass Aristida, fingergrass Digitaria, dropseed Sporobolus sp., stargrass Cynodon dactylon, and Phragmites mauritianus. Balanites aegyptiaca is important as a source of edible fruits, while the pods of Acacia tortilis are eaten by livestock.
There has been a tremendous loss of woody vegetation that has been attributed to various factors including the rise of water table, increase in salinity, off road driving by tour vehicles and destruction of vegetation by elephants.

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