Kenya has a very large landscape which is home to a great variety of wildlife. The diversity in the wildlife of Kenya includes a wide variety of mammals, amphibians, fish, and reptile species. The country’s biodiversity consists of more than 25,000 distinct animal species, from the tallest animal on earth, the giraffe, to the fastest land animal on earth, the cheetah. Giant mammals of the world such as the elephants are native to Kenya. Not forgetting the great Lion King that roams Maasai Mara and Tsavo. Some of the animals that are native to Kenya include “Kenya’s Big Five”, Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo. Other animal species found in Kenya include, Giraffe, Cheetah, Zebras, Hippopotamus, Antelopes, Hyena, Wildebeast, Ostrich, Cape Buffalo, Warthog, Serval, Crocodile.
Below is a list of 10 popular animals native to Kenya.
1. African Elephant
The elephant is the largest land animal that currently walks on earth. The largest elephant on record was an adult male African elephant, it weighed about 24,000 pounds and was 13 feet tall at the shoulder. They can live up to 70 years of age. They have a highly developed brain and the largest amongst all land animals and yet it is the only mammal that can’t jump although they can swim and use their trunk to breath in deep water. They use their large and thin ears which are made up of a complex network of blood vessels to regulate their temperatures by circulating through their ears to cool them during hot climates. The amazing elephant’s trunk is capable of sensing the size, shape and temperature of an object and to also lift food and suck up water then pour it into it’s mouth. It has the longest pregnancy period amongst all animals where the female takes 22 months from conception to give birth and can reproduce from as early as 16 years old.
The best places to see Kenya’s wonderful giants are Amboseli National Park, Samburu National Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve.
2. African Leopard
The smallest of the big cats even though it remains one of the greatest predators in East Africa where it dwells in semi-deserts and savanna grasslands, they even live in urban and suburban parts of Africa. The leopard is the most elusive and secretive of all the big cats and are very hard to trace in the wild. It is the strongest climber of trees amongst all the big cats, most often when you visit parks in Kenya you’ll see these cat species resting on tree branches during the day. To avoid being stalked by its rivals, the hyenas and lions, the leopard would carry it’s hunt high up on trees for a peaceful meal. These solitary creatures would always set a territory which they mark with their urine and claw marks whereby the males have much larger territories compared to the females. Native tales have it that you can encounter a lion and it might not harm you but the leopard no matter how full its belly is, it will always attack you.
Did You Know?
During the National Geographic epic programme “Eye Of The Leopard”, a wild leopard killed a baboon to feed herself. However upon noticing an infant baboon, the leopard amazingly carried the infant up to the safety on the tree to guard her from hyenas. She groomed and cuddled the baby throughout the night, caring for the infant as her own cub.
The best places to see the African Leopard in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park, Mt Kenya.
3. Cape Buffalo
These savanna buffaloes are large, heavy and fiercest cow-like animals. There is only one genus and one species of the buffalo in Africa, whereas the single species has two distinct types: the large savanna buffalo native to Kenya and Tanzania while the much smaller dwarf forest buffalo native to West Africa. Whilst their sight is very poor their scent is well developed. The buffalo is one of the most abundant of all Africa’s large herbivores. It depends on water and does not live in regions with less than 10 inches of rain a year. This wildest beast has set a terrible reputation to people living in it’s proximity since it blends completely with herds of cattle, when it comes face to face with a human, it’s tears begin dripping and that would mean death. In some cases when it manages to put off from a trap it will always remain their and wait for the hunter to maul them, it can never forgive.
The best places to see the Cape buffalo in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Haller Park, Nairobi National Park.
Well the world fastest land animal alive reaching a speed of up to 75 miles per hour. It has a long tail to maintain balance and change direction while at the highest speed. The cheetah is native to grasslands and savannahs of Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania, Uganda and Somalia. According to Wikipedia, East African cheetahs form the second-largest population after the Southern African cheetah, whereas Kenya is the main stronghold for the East African cheetah, with the largest population of 800 to 1200 adults in the country since 2015. This is the only big cat that cannot roar but can purr unlike the other big cats who can only roar. It is also the only cat that cannot retract its claws, an adaptation to help maintain traction. It can live up to 14 years of age.
The best places to see the world’s fastest land animal in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park, Kora National Park.
Who would love crocodiles after seeing how dangerous they are after the Primeval movie came out? And here they are in Africa they are one of the most tourist attracting reptiles. There are 13 different species of crocodiles all over the world varying in size and colour. Crocodiles can be found mostly in the tropical habitats living near rivers and lakes across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. The average crocodile can grow from 3.3 to 5 metres (10 feet 10 inches to 16 feet 5 inches) long and can weigh up to 700 kilograms. Crocodiles are carnivores hence their diet is mainly meat from fish, birds, animals and any human who comes into contact with them. Since they have slow metabolism like any other reptiles, crocodiles can go for months without any food, it is also during this time when they hibernate given their cold-blooded nature they would go dormant during long periods of drought. If a crocodile loses it’s tooth it is quickly replaced by a new one and they can go through 8000 teeth in their lifetime.
The best places to see the deadliest predator in Kenya are: Mamba (Crocodile) Village, Galaxy Crocodile Farm, Haller Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve.
They are the tallest mammals walking on earth today and they are native to savannahs and open acacia woodlands in Kenya. Kenya is a heart and soul of giraffes in East Africa with an estimate of 29,000 giraffes which is equivalent to 30% of all giraffes found in Africa. While there are nine sub-species of giraffes, three of them are found in Kenya, these are, The Rothschild giraffe, Maasai giraffe and the Reticulated giraffe. Their unique coat pattern is distinct to another and they have two hair-covered horns called ossicones. Since they are herbivores they entirely eat plants and can stay long without drinking water due to the amount of water they get from their leafy meals. They can live up to 40 years of age.
The best places to see the world’s tallest mammals in Kenya are Giraffe Centre, Lake Nakuru National Park, Samburu National Reserve, Chyulu Hills, Haller Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve.
The third largest land mammal on Earth after the elephant and the white rhino, with an average length of 3.3 to 5 metres (10.8 to 16.5 feet, respectively) and an average height of up to 1.6 metres (5.2 feet) at the shoulder. Hippos are native to Sub-Saharan Africa and are mostly found in areas with plenty of water where they spend most of their time in the water to cool their skin, they can spend up to 16 hours soaking in the water and come out of the water to graze mostly in the evenings when the sun is going down and even during the night. Sometimes if food is scarce hippos store food in their bellies and can go up to three weeks without eating. Naturally hippos are aggressive especially when they have a young one, people living near lakes and rivers have reported how dangerous hippos are and can slice a human into two halves with their giant teeth. Even though hippos spend most of their time in the water they are not at all good swimmers but can glide underwater for up to five minutes before coming up for oxygen.
The best places to see Hippopotamus in Kenya are Haller Park, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park.
The lion king, is the largest of all the African big cats and the second-largest in the Felidae family, with the tiger being the largest but still the lion is the King of the Jungle. These cats have a wide variety of habitat, like they can live everywhere compared to other big cats, they can be found in thick bushes, woodlands, scrubs and woodlands just to name a few. They are the loudest of the big cats and their roar can be heard up to 8 km away. They may roar mightily to show off their territorial ownership and intimidating rivals or to locate other members of the pride. Lions have four claws on the hind limbs but have five on their fore limbs where the dew claw is found, however, the dew claw does not show in their footprint and it acts like a thumb to hold down prey. The lion cubs are usually born with blue eyes that change to amber or brown at around two to three months old. Lions have round pupils instead of vertical slits, this allows them to allow more light to filter into their eyes at night, giving them a better night vision.
The best places to see the African Lion in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park, Mt Kenya.
It is a species of large flightless birds native to East Africa where they live in savannas and woodlands, they can still be found in captivity across the globe, it has a very long neck stretching from it’s oval-like body and two long powerful legs with two toes on each foot, it is the largest living species of flightless birds and lays the largest eggs with an average of 15 cm (6 inches) length, 13 cm (5.1 inches) width, and weigh 1.4 kilograms, they are more than 20 times the weight of a hen’s egg. It is the fastest bird to run on land and can run up to a speed of 70 km/h (43 mph). Ostriches are omnivores and their diet mainly consists of plants and invertebrates. It is widely believed that ostriches bury their heads in the sand, however, they do lie down with their heads against the ground whenever they feel threatened and that would look like the ostrich has buried it’s head in the ground because it’s head and neck blend in with the colour of the sand.
The best place to see ostriches in Kenya is Maasai Ostrich Farm.
The most poached animal in Kenya, in 1970, about 20,000 black rhinos roamed in Kenya but five decades later less than 750 are left although their population has been increasing recently since they are kept in sanctuaries and protected from poachers. There are only two rhino species; the white rhino and the black rhino, both of these species are found in Kenya. The white rhino is square-lipped and is actually grey in colour with a hump on its neck and a long face. The black rhino is hooked-lipped and has a thick, hairless grey hide. Rhinos have a poor eyesight but have a very good sense of smell. Mostly these rhinos live in grasslands and floodplains, they would normally graze during the day and night and sleep when its hottest during the day and at times they can be found having a mud soak, this helps them keep bugs off their skin. Most often the rhino is accompanied by the Oxpecker bird and it would eat the bugs on the rhinos’ skin.
The best places to see rhinos in Kenya are Maasai Mara National Reserve, Nairobi National Park.