Good Morning, Nairobi!

Good Morning, Nairobi!

NairobiGrouseThis morning Nairobi got good news: the yellow-throated sandgrouse was photographed drinking in Nairobi National Park.

Scratching your head? Let me bring a smile to your face.

Will Knocker’s photograph above is of the three sandgrouse this morning in Nairobi National Park. (The inset is from somebody’s phone this morning, and that somebody must have been on a crane or something at the roundabout starting the street.)

Nairobi is fast becoming the second most important city in Africa, after Johannesburg. With this emergence has come more problems than you can shake your stick at. The city’s growth is unimaginable and not well coordinated. So next week there might be a high-rise being constructed on a site where a railway station is also being built.

Traffic – well, forget about traffic. Recently I was sent a picture of a bicycle pile-up in between two rows of congested vehicles on Uhuru highway. There’s a reasonable chance the inability of vehicles to move will lead to new, alternate forms of transportation, like walking.

It is, by the way, leading to new forms of work days. More and more people are going to work at ridiculously odd hours and coming home similarly, just so that going and coming will “work.”

Carved on one little side – I’d say right now about a ninth of the city’s bulging perimeter – is … absolutely unbelievably … a national big-game park.

Nairobi National Park is a legacy park to be sure. It hasn’t grown in size since it was first proclaimed in 1945 making it the oldest national park in Kenya.

But neither has it shrunk, and that’s the point.

I incorrectly predicted that it would. A highway was announced and work begun that would have transected the park and I offered a sad lament but presumed it was inevitable.

It wasn’t, and I ate crow. (Not pied crow.) Local conservationists prevailed. Yes, they prevailed on a technicality to be sure, but isn’t that how Mohammed moved the mountain?

And with efforts very similar to our American local conservation societies first modeled by Nature Conservancy, tracts of land on the opposite side of the park to the city have been secured as wildlife corridors into some of what’s left of Kenya’s wild Amboseli ecosystem.

The yellow-throated sandgrouse doesn’t come to town. It’s a country bird. In fact, it’s a prairie, massive wilderness bird. It lays 2-3 eggs in a ridiculously unsecured nest made in a slight depression in the ground. It doesn’t like people.

I see it in the Serengeti and the Mara, and cousins of it in Kenya’s Northern Frontier. I don’t see it at the mall.

Well, there you have it, a wonderful Friday piece of unfinished news. If Pterocles gutturalis made it through the morning commute, I guess I won’t give up trying.