Kenya Animal Holiday; 13 Most Captivating Animal Sights in Kenya
By Robert Muhoho
Hyraxes (or dassies) occur nearly everywhere there are mountains or rocky outcrops. They are sociable, living in colonies of up to 60. Yellow spotted hyraxes are distinguished by the presence of a prominent white spot above the eye. Hyraxes spend much of the day basking on rocks or chasing other hyraxes.
If accustomed to humans they are often approachable, but will dash off if alarmed, uttering shrill screams. Rocks streaked white by hyraxes‚€™ urine are often an indicator of a colony‚€™s presence.
Distribution: Both species are widely distributed through out Kenya.
2. Burchell‚€™s Zebra
Thousands of Burchell‚€™s zebras (one of the three species in Africa) join blue wildebeests on their famous mass migration. Larger herds are usually temporary aggregations of smaller groups. Stallions may hold a harem for 15 years, but they often lose single mares to younger males, which gradually build up their own harems.
When pursued by predators, zebras close ranks as they run off, making it hard for any individual to be singled out for attack. And yes, it‚€™s true-a zebra‚€™s stripes are as individual as a humans finger prints.
3. Black (Hook-lipped) Rhinoceros
In many countries rhinos have been exterminated and the white rhino is now very rare in East Africa (it remains numerous in southern Africa). The smaller of the two species, black rhinos are more unpredictable and prone to charging when alarmed or uncertain about a possible threat.
They use their pointed, prehensile upper lip to feed selectively on branches and foliage. Black rhinos are solitary and aggressively territorial, usually only socializing during the mating season; however, they may form temporary associations. Distribution: Restricted to relict populations in few reserves; black best seen in Nairobi National Park; white best seen in Lake Nakuru National Park.
There are several distinctly patterned subspecies of giraffe, including reticulated giraffes and the more common masai giraffe. The ‚€˜horns‚€™ (skin covered bone) of males have bald tips; females‚€™ are covered in hair. Giraffes form ever-changing groups of up to 50; females are rarely seen alone, while males are more solitary.
Giraffes exploit foliage out of reach of most herbivores-males usually feed from a higher level than females. Juveniles are prone to predation and lions even take adults; giraffes are most vulnerable when drinking. Distribution Reticulated giraffe occurs in northern Kenya; masai giraffe widespread southwest of Nairobi extending into Tanzania; Rothschild‚€™s giraffe is restricted to western Kenya near lake Baringo.
5. Bush Bucks
Shy and solitary animals, bush bucks inhabit thick bush close to permanent water, where they browse on leaves at night. Bush bucks are chest-nut to dark brown in colour and have a variable number of white vertical stripes on the body between the neck and rump, as well as a number of white spots on the upper thigh and a white splash on the neck.
Normally only males grow horns, which are straight with gentle spirals and average about 30cm in length. When startled, bush buck bolt and crash loudly through the undergrowth. Distribution: Through out the region, favoring denser habitats.
Greater kudus are Africa‚€™s second tallest antelope; males carry massive spiraling horns (the largest of any antelope). They are light grey in colour, with six to 12 white stripes down the sides. Males are blue-grey and females are a bright rust colour. One to three females and their young form groups, and are joined by males during the breeding season. Kudus find their diet in woodland ‚€“savannah with fairly dense bush cover. Distribution Greater kudus can be found through out Kenya, except in the driest areas; lesser kudus prefer the arid regions of northern Kenya.
7. Eland Africa‚€™s largest antelope, elands are massive. The horns of both sexes average 65cm, spiraling at the base then sweeping straight back. The male has a distinctive hairy tuft on the head, and stouter horns. Herds consist of adults, or adults and young or sometimes just young-group membership and composition change often.
The most common large groups consist of 10 to 60 females and young. Males are less gregarious, coming together more sporadically and in smaller numbers, but one or more often join female and young herds. Distribution Patchy distribution in arid zones; best seen in Nairobi and Tsavo National Parks.
Hartebeests are red to tan in colour medium-sized and easily recognized by their long, narrow face and short horns. In both sexes, the distinctively angular and heavily ridged horns form a heart shape, hence their name, which comes from Afrikaans.
Dominant males defend territories, which herds of females and their young pass through; other males move in bachelor groups. Herds aggregations of hundreds an (in the past) thousands also occur. Distribution Wide ranging; coke‚€™s hartebeest, also known as ‚€˜Kongoni‚€™ is common in Kenya; Jackson‚€™s hartebeest is confined to areas near Lake Victoria.
Topis are reddish brown, with glossy violet patches on the legs and face. Their social system is highly variable. In grassy woodlands, males hold territories with harems of up to 10 females. On floodplains with dense populations, nomadic herds of thousands may form, males establishing temporary territories whenever the herd halts.
Elsewhere, males gather on breeding-season display grounds; females visit these ‚€™leks‚€™ to select their mates. Both sexes often stand on high vantage points (commonly termite mounds) to view their surroundings and as territorial advertisement. Distribution Widespread throughout medium-length grasslands, common in the Masai Mara national reserve.
10. Blue Wildebeest
Blue wildebeest often form herds in association with zebras and other herbivores. Wildebeest are grazers, and move constantly in search of good pasture and water, preferring to drink daily-this gives rise to the famous mass migration in the Serengeti ‚€“MASAI Mara ecosystem.
Elsewhere, especially where food and water are more permanent, groups of up to 30 are more usual, with larger congregations being less frequent and more temporary. In both situations, males are territorial and attempt to herd groups of females into their territory. Distribution Through out parks in Southern Kenya.
Small sturdy antelopes, klipspringer are easily recognized by their tip-toe stance-their hooves are adapted for balance and grip on rocky surfaces, enabling them to bound up in impossibly rough and steep rock surfaces. Klipspringers normally inhabit rocky outcrops; they also sometimes venture into adjacent grasslands, but always retreat to the rocks when alarmed.
Klipspringers form long-lasting pair bonds and the pair occupies a territory, nearly always remaining within a couple of metres of each other. Distribution Rocky outcrops and mountainous areas throughout the region.
Steenboks are pretty and slender antelopes; their back and hind quarters range from light reddish-brown to dark brown with pale under part markings. The nose bears a black, wedge-shaped stripe. Males have small, straight and widely separated horns.
Although usually seen alone, its likely that steenboks share a small territory with a mate, but only occasionally does the pair come together. Steenboks are active in the morning and afternoon and by night; they may become more nocturnal where frequently disturbed. Distribution Restricted to central and northern Kenya.
13. Kirks Dik-dik
Dik-diks are identified by their miniature size, the pointed flexible snout and a tuft on the forehead; only the males have horns. Dik-diks are monogamous and pairs are territorial. If one is seen, its mate is usually nearby, ass well as that years young.
Both members of the pair, and their young, use dung piles to mark their territory, placing their deposits as part of an elaborate ceremony. Dik-diks feed by browsing on foliage and, being well adapted to their dry environments, don‚€™t drink. Through out Kenya. Status: Common but wary and easy to miss; active by day and night.
Robert is a travel expert with Landmarksafaris.com Degreed in tourism management, he has authored more than 1000 articles on Kenya East Africa travel. Find out what happens to you in your animal safari encounter: http://www.landmarksafaris.com/tours/wildlife.php
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