THE HABITAT Nairobi National Park lies to the south-southeast of the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, where the Athi Plains meet the Eastern escarpment of the Rift Valley. These plains form part of the semi-arid highland plateau lying between the coast and the Rift Valley. Both the city itself, and the Park bordering it, are a meeting place of two generally distinct types of landscape and climate. While to the east-southeast are semi-arid plains with grasslands and scattered trees, the western-north western parts are higher, hilly, cooler, more humid and support lush forests. The combination of latitude-a little over one degree south of the Equator -and altitude-average of 1600 m. (5000-5500 ft.) -combine to give Nairobi a most equable climate where the temperature varies during the year between about 11 degrees and 27 degrees centigrade (mean minimum and mean maximum for eight years). However, considerable changes are usually experienced within each day and a rise from 14 degrees C at 0600 hours to 22 degrees at 1100 hours is not unusual. Nairobi Park has a unique concentration of wild animals living in their natural habitat less than 10 km. from the centre of a modern city of half a million people. The only interference with the natural course of events in the Park is that normally required for the proper management of a game park, such as maintenance of roads and dams, and, in this particular case, partial fencing towards the city.
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Table of ContentsI Introduction.- The Habitat.- History and physical features of Nairobi National Park.- The animal population.- Aims and scope of this study.- Methods and procedures.- Identification method.- Ageing.- The lion. Description and distribution.- II Population Structure and Ranges.- Population size, composition and density.- The prides: composition and changes throughout the year.- Home ranges.- Day range utilization.- Habitat preferences.- III Activity Patterns.- Daily activity cycles.- Daytime activities.- Activity pattern of females.- Activity pattern of male.- Cubs’ activity pattern.- Resting positions; degrees of alertness.- Night activities.- Distances covered by night.- Range utilization by night.- IV Individual Activities.- Locomotion.- Speed.- Pattern of walking.- Tree climbing.- Health and self-care.- Injuries, diseases and parasites.- Body functions.- Self-care and comfort activities.- V Social Behaviour.- Group life; synchronized activities.- Amicable behaviour.- Mutual grooming.- Greeting (headrubbing).- Agonistic behaviour.- Threat and intimidation displays.- Defence; submission.- Intragroup relationships; social bonds, individual associations, rank order, leadership.- Communication: vocalization and marking.- Intergroup relationships; meeting of prides.- VI Reproduction and Development.- Sexual behaviour; courtship and mating.- Gestation period, litter size, cub mortality.- Physical development and care of young.- Feeding and grooming of cubs.- Protection of cubs.- Vocal communication between mother and cub.- Play and the development of behaviour patterns and social interactions.- Development of sexual dimorphism and independence.- VII Predation.- Predation patterns.- The prey animals; numbers, density.- Prey predator ratios.- Prey selection (based on carcase analysis).- Habitat as a factor in prey selection.- Hunting methods and feeding behaviour.- Searching.- Preference ratio based on stalks.- Attacking and killing.- Feeding.- Consumption; kill frequency.- Drinking.- Hunting success.- VIII Reaction to Environment.- Reaction to humans and vehicles.- Interaction with other species.- Response to weather.- IX Discussion and Epilogue.- Appendices.- References.- Acknowledgements.