One of the most popular national parks in Kenya in the Amboseli National Park, located 135 km from Nairobi. It has been designated as an international biosphere reserve. The region's rich wildlife has attracted attention for a long time, and the British government, which governed the region at the time, decided in 1899 to declare the area an official game reserve. In 1974, the government of Kenya designated the park as the Amboseli National Park, and set the land apart for wildlife and tourism. The Masai inhabitants of the area were made to live outside the park's boundaries. This raised some political protests from them at that time. The Masai have been living in the area in harmony with nature for over 400 years. The Kenya Wildlife Community Service works closely with local elders and develops eco-tourism projects which benefit the community as well as protecting the fantastic ecosystem. The park, with its present boundaries, covers an area of 392 square kilometers.
Amboseli offers an interesting contrast in appearance. It has a somewhat dry and dusty appearance, which can be attributed to the volcanic ash that came out of Mt Kilimanjaro when it last erupted. Mt Kilimanjaro, in fact, is located just about 25 miles away. However, in spite of the appearance, there is a continuous supply of water that gets filtered through volcanic rocks from Kilimanjaro's melted snow. These streams flow underground, creating lush green areas, and converge at two clear water springs in the park.
The park was opened to visitors in April 1948. It offers a variety of accommodation for tourists. Visitors mainly come to watch the huge herds of elephants. There are about 900 elephants in the park. The bull elephants have some of the largest tusks in all of Kenya. Wildlife here includes the zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, impala, caracal and serval cat, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, wild dog, and hippo. There are also over 400 species of birds, including the bee-eater, kingfisher, African fish eagle, marital eagle and pygmy falcon. Visitors can also enjoy excellent views of Mt Kilimanjaro and Meru.
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