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Zebras at Nairobi National Park
Zebras at Nairobi National Park
Audrey Garric

NAIROBI — The sun feels even more scorching under the cap of pollution. Through her binoculars, Patricia Heather-Hayes, nicknamed "Trish," is scrutinizing a lioness sleeping under an acacia in Kenya"s Nairobi National Park. The energetic 60-something, who works in a legal office when she's not out here observing wildlife, knows the name of every feline. "This is Athi. She has three cubs," she says.

Further away, Trish follows the giraffes, the antelopes and the zebras through the savanna. Skyscrapers loom on the horizon. But whenever she strides along the park, she also sees plastic bags, bottles and other food packagings stuck in the bushes or abandoned on the side of the road. This 117-square-kilometer wildlife preserve, the only one in the world located just next to a capital city, is threatened by Nairobi's expansion.

"We find more and more garbage carried by the wind from surrounding residential areas or abandoned by tourists," she says with irritation. "Not long ago, I saw a snake stuck inside a soda can, dying."

In addition to her legal work, Trish serves as vice-president of an association called Friends of Nairobi National Park (FoNNaP). Once a month she and other organization members go on long voluntary cleaning missions. Summoning her patience, Trish maneuvers her Jeep so as to avoid the ruts but not miss any garbage, which she picks up with long barbecue tongs. Today, she will fill five 50-liter bags.

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