Culturs traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to discover hidden diversity in this wildlife sanctuary and uncovered the unique job of a national park Warden.
At Nairobi National Park, we met with Deputy Park Warden Gentungi to experience this majestic wildlife park found in the middle of Kenya’s largest city. Gentungi himself had always visited national parks in Kenya. He began with the beautiful Nakuru National Park found in his home: Kenya’s Rift Valley.
He “jumped at the opportunity” to become a park warden, but “the reality and the perceptions: sometimes they don’t match.”
Just like any other job, being a warden for Nairobi National Park has many challenges. However, by any measure, the client’s joy when spotting a lion for the first time means a job well done.
Kenya’s national park wardens stand out because they are trained to develop military skills and carry firearms to ensure wildlife protection. Kenya Wildlife Services was established in 1990 with a mandate to conserve wildlife. The organization combats poachers with 54 warden stations that monitor human-wildlife conflicts as well as track breeding and numbers of wildlife outside the parks. Other human-wildlife conflicts include elephants trampling crops and lions attacking livestock.
With 24 national parks and 28 national reserves, wildlife is not difficult to encounter. The warden said that Nairobi National Park is the nation’s most unique because it is home to The Big 5 (the most desired animals to be seen on a Kenyan safari). Safari-goers don’t have to search further than the city limits to find them.
According to Gentungi, the word “safari” comes from the Kiswahili language and, as such, is a word that embodies Africa.
“You mention the word ‘safari’ to anybody, and they automatically associate that with Africa, so safari is what makes us unique,” he added.
The park is short drive outside of Nairobi’s central business. It features open grass plains and awe-inspiring views of the city’s skyscrapers on the horizon. Animals including black rhino, lions, leopards, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, giraffe and hundreds of different birds garner the attention of visitors and locals alike.
This Culturs TV program originally was presented on dptv.denverpost.com through a partnership with The Denver Post.