A Warden's Ode

Ken Beaten was the first warden of Nairobi National Park, when it was made a National Park in l948

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Ken Beaten was the first warden of Nairobi National Park, when it was made a National Park in l948. He was a brilliant naturalist and administrator, and also an excellent communicator who wrote a piece entitled “A Warden’s Diary” weekly for the country’s main newspaper, The East African Standard. When the Tsavo National Park was created a year later, he was assigned the advisory task of suggesting how this giant and virtually unknown arid wilderness should best be administered, and having spent time camping there, he suggested that it had to be divided into two for administrative purpose, since developing the entire 8,000 sq. miles would prove far too challenging for any one warden. Thus, Tsavo was divided into Tsavo East encompassing everything east of the Nairobi – Mombasa railway line, and Tsavo West incorporating the country west of the line. Later on, Ken Beaton left Kenya to become the first Director of Uganda National Parks. Sadly he died far too young but he was someone deeply respected by all the pioneer wardens of Kenya’s National Parks, and whose legacy remains today.

TSAVO

With the stealthy step of the hunted thing, The wild game comes to drink, For the poacher is waiting tense in his hide, Close to the river’s brink. But the poacher is also a hunted beast, Now that this is a sanctuary made, And the day of his evil nears its end With death to the ivory trade.

By moonlight the elephants quench their thirst On the sands where the water bends, And the roar of the lion echoes far As his nightly challenge he sends.

The hippo grunt in the palm-fringed pools Where the silvery fish leap high, The coughing rasp of the leopard’s call Blends harsh with the jackal’s cry.

Wild and lovely, in an untamed way A land as it’s always been, Where Africa, savage and raw, holds sway With the laws of the wild supreme. But Kenya will have a treasure of gold And a joy for the rest of its days, For the time will come when the game will roam At peace with man and his ways.

K. P. BEATON Warden 24th May, 1951

NAIROBI

It lies close to the boundary of the busy city’s rights A tiny little sanctuary in which the game delights. The remnants of the vast herds which used to roam the plains, Still at dawn the vultures circle round the lions’ grim remains.

By dark the gorges echo to wild voices of the night By day to droning engines of the aeroplanes in flight. But the birds and beasts and flowers by water-hole and stream Pay no heed and rest contented. It’s a nature lover’s dream.

K. P. BEATON Warden 24th May, 1951