Amboseli National Park of Kenya

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Amboseli National Park, formerly Maasai Amboseli Game Reserve, is in Kajiado District, Rift Valley Province in Kenya. The park is 39,206 hectares (392 km2; 151 sq mi) in size at the core of an 8,000 square kilometres (3,100 sq mi) ecosystem that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

The local people are mainly Maasai, but people from other parts of the country have settled there attracted by the successful tourist-driven economy and intensive agriculture along the system of swamps that makes this low-rainfall area (average 350 mm (14 in)) one of the best wildlife-viewing experiences in the world with 400 species of birds including water birds, pelicans, kingfishers, crakes, hammerkops and 47 types of raptor.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

The park protects two of the five main swamps, and includes a dried-up Pleistocene lake and semi-arid vegetation. 240 kilometers (150 miles) southeast from the capital city Nairobi, Amboseli National Park is the second most popular national park in Kenya after Maasai Mara National Reserve and the visit can easily be done in a weekend.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

In 1883, Joseph Thompson was the first European to penetrate the feared Maasai region known as Empusel (meaning 'salty, dusty place' in Maa). He, too, was astonished by the fantastic array of wildlife and the contrast between the arid areas of the dry-lake bed and the oasis of the swamps, a contrast that persists today.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

Amboseli was set aside as the 'Southern Reserve' for Maasai in 1906 but returned to local control as a Game Reserve in 1948. Gazetted a National Park in 1974 to protect the core this unique ecosystem, it was declared a UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Reserve in 1991.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

The park earned $3.5 m in 2005. On 29 September 2005, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared that control of the park should pass from the Kenya Wildlife Service to the Olkejuado County Council and the Maasai tribe.

Amboseli National Park of Kenya
Amboseli National Park of Kenya

Some observers saw this as a political favour in advance of a vote on a new Kenyan constitution: legal challenges are currently in court. The degazetting would divert park admission fees directly to the County Council with shared benefits to the Maasai immediately surrounding the park.

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