You may have noticed that there are a lot more photos of predators, and that the predators look a lot fatter, in my recent photos from Kenya, as compared to my photos from Tsavo NP earlier this year. The reason for this has a lot to do with the size of the parks, and whether they’re fenced off. Tsavo NP is a park the size of Lebanon, though it is divided by a railroad, and the densities of the animals within it are thus a lot lower. In Lake Nakuru NP and the Maasai Mara, the parks are a lot smaller, and fenced off. For this reason, the densities of the herbivores (buffalo, wildebeest etc) are a lot higher. Sometimes the population size of the predators is also tightly controlled (some of the lions are given contraceptives for example).
Lake Nakuru NP is a very small park with a fence around it and the densities of the buffalo within have, in the past, gotten so high that a disease was able to wipe out a large proportion of the animals (because disease spreads so quickly when population densities are high). Another interesting feature of these high buffalo densities is that the buffalo sometimes bully the predators, often injuring or killing them.
For this reason, the lions of Nakuru NP have developed an interesting behaviour…they sleep in the trees! Our guide told us that this behaviour is unique to Nakuru…a behavioural adaptation to changing environmental conditions.
Of course, we did see some lions lyin on the ground in Lake Nakuru NP, looking spectacularly unworried about the buffalo threat. The population density of the buffalo is in flux, so I suppose the lions respond accordingly.