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Meru National Park, home to kenya's rare white Rhino.


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Meru National Park.

On the lowland plains east of town of Meru, lies the Meru National Park which is a complete contrast to the more northerly reserves of Samburu, Buffalo Springs and Shaba where open bush is the norm. In Meru, abundant rainfall and numerous permanent streams flowing down from the Mount Kenya massif support a luxuriant jungle of forest, swamp and tall grasses which, in turn, provide fodder and shelter to a wide variety of herbivores and their predators.

ELEPHANTS AT MERU NATIONAL PARK

As in other parks, such as Marsabit, where the vegetation is dense, the wildlife is not so easily sighted in the Meru National Park, so you need to spend a few days here if you are to fully appreciate what the park has to offer. Unfortunately this area was one of the worst hit by poachers and the shifters, and so the abundance of wildlife is not much like in other parks. With some difficulties, elephants, lions and cheetahs can all be seen. Buffaloes and giraffes are more common, and eland and oryx are the main antelope species to be seen.

Monkeys, crocodiles and a plethora of bird species are common in the dense vegetation alongside the watercourses. Meru National Park was also the home of Kenya's only herd of white rhinos which were imported from the Umfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa.

The white rhino species was guarded 24 hours a day by rangers to protect them from poachers, these huge animals were quite unlike their more cantankerous cousins, the black rhino, in being remarkable docile and willing to allow their keepers to herd them around the camp sites and Meru National Park headquarters area during the day and pen them up at night.

Sadly, that is all gone now. Heavily armed poachers shot the lot of them and, for good measure, killed their keepers too. The park is also famous for being Joy and George Adamson's former base where they raised orphaned lions and leopard cubs until they were old enough to be returned to the wild.

Security in the park is good but there are times when there is still a small risk of encountering poachers and bandits here so you need to bear this in mind, especially if you are driving your own vehicle.

It is true to say, however, that the chances of running into bandits are just as great in Maasai Mara or Tsavo as it is in Meru National Park. The one major plus about Meru is that you are unlikely to come across another safari vehicle anywhere in the park except at the lodges. The tracks through the Meru National Park are well maintained and signposted though it is a good idea to have a copy of the Survey of Kenya's Meru National Park map with you.

On the border of Meru National Park is Bisanadi National Reserve. Known as 'Kinna', the border between Meru and Bisanadi Parks is the traditional division between the Meru and Boran tribesí people. Meru National Park has also great accommodation at the camp sites which are Kambi Baridi; Kitanga; Makutano; Rojoweru; Mugunga; Ken Mare and Kanjoo.

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