Meru National Park
Meru National Park is a national park located east of Meru, 350 km from Nairobi. Covering an area of 870 km², it is one best known National Parks in Kenya.The park was established in 1968. It has abundant rainfall, 635–762 mm in the west of the park and 305–356 mm in the east. The rainfall results in tall grass and lush swamps. Its natural scenery is diverse, from the wide-open plains with many rivers, to the woodlands on the slopes of the Nyambene mountain range, to the northeast of Mount Kenya.
Meru was one of the two areas in which conservationists George Adamson and Joy Adamson raised Elsa the lioness made famous in the best selling book and award winning movie Born free. Elsa the Lioness is buried in this park and part of Joy’s ashes were scattered on her gravesite.
In the 1980s, the elephant population suffered greatly due to the activities of illegal ivory poachers. The Kenya Wildlife Service has since largely eradicated this problem by providing armed security patrols, and elephant numbers are now increasing.
Game viewing includes elephants, hippos, lions, leopards and cheetahs. There are also some rare antelope, including the Lesser Kudu,Grevy’s zebra, duiker and dik-dik, a tiny African antelope that stands just twelve inches high and is very shy. Meru National Park also has some of Kenya’s largest herds of buffalo, along with hartebeests, giraffes and gazelles. There is also a sanctuary for the eastern black rhinos and the southern white rhinos.
Over 300 species of birds have been recorded in Meru National Park, including the Peter’s Finfoot, the Pel’s Fishing Owl, kingfishers, rollers, bee-eaters, starlings and numerous weavers. There is also an abundance of ostriches, hornbills, secretary birds, eagles and other smaller birds. It is a good idea to carry a bird book to identify the many species you will see.
Rainfall is higher in the west than in the eastern sector of the park. It is generally cooler than the coastal plains and varies with the altitude. The west has 635-762mm of annual rainfall, and the east has 305-356mm.