A Pictographic Gallery of Wildlife in Kenya
The Magic of Wildlife in Kenya
Wildlife in Kenya and safari drives capture the imagination. A jaunt to marvel at the idea of how much has changed since man’s great leap from the wild and how much has remained unchanged in the circle of life. A safari drive, to range over wildlife in Kenya, is an adventure everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. At the least, a trip to these wilder neck of the woods is almost guaranteed to be adventurous and interesting. But the piece-de-resistance of a safari is an opportunity to appreciate the brutal elegance of nature and wildlife. An eternal arms race to survive and, an awe-inspiring and grand operation that has produced spectacular and surpassing wildlife in Kenya, which is one of the wilder places on earth with enormous wildlife resources and habitats ranging from seashores to mountains and near-desert to lush forests. Scattered across these diverse environments are more than 50 national reserves and about 100 sanctuaries. They offer many opportunities to sight wildlife in Kenya up-close.
Antelopes & Gazelles
A Pictographic Gallery of Antelopes in Kenya
Hirola or Hunter’s Hartebeest is a local variant of the Hartebeest with horns longer than those of the common Hartebeest and bear some resemblance to those of the impala. It is far smaller than the Kongoni and slightly larger than the impala. It has a long, gainly face, red coat and lyrate horns similar to the impala’s. It’s highly endangered and inhabits a small area on the north bank of Tana.
Known as Tohe in Swahili, it is easily recognized by its unusual horns which bend at the tip to form hooks. Often seen in open country, it sports a yellowish to brown coat with a white under belly. The head-and-body length is typically between 100–135 cm
Roan Antelope, (Korongo)
Standing 5 feet at the shoulder, and just slightly smaller than the Eland and Bongo, this large and powerful antelope is sighted in open country containing patches of woodland. The horns, present in both males and females, curve backward and are tightly ringed. It’s colour is mostly red-brown with a white belly, and the face has black and white markings.
Sable Antelope, Palahala
Also known as Mbarapi, the Sable is slightly smaller than the Roan but has larger horns that’re sharply curved. Found mainly in the Coast Region, this handsome antelope with a shiny blackish to brown coat, a white under belly and manned down the neck and halfway along the back, is widely known for its magisterial horns.
Easily recognized by its glossy coat of bright red-brown with black marks on the face and on its upper limbs, the Topi bears resemblance to the Hartebeest. The dark markings distinguish its from the Kongoni. Found in grasslands and in semi-desert regions it has exceptional speed.
More proper the Kongoni, this is a popular plains game native to Kenya and Tanzania. It sports a light-brown coat with bracket-shaped horns and steeply sloping hindquarters. Much like its close kin the Topi, it’s always alert and has intense stamina and agility, making it difficult to hunt down.
Swala Granti in Swahili, it is a commonly seen animal across Kenya. This dainty and graceful gazelle has lyre-shaped horned which sometimes reach 2 feet. The general colour of its upper body is fawn, with a white rump bordered on each side by a dark stripe. The face has a chestnut streak down the centre – with a novel black spot above the nose.
Swala Tomi in Swahili, this is smaller and brightly coloured in comparison to its closest kin, the Grant’s gazelle. Its white under belly and rump are bordered by black bands and its upper body is ruddy in colour with a pale band along its flank. Like the impala, it continually twitches its black tail.
The Steinbok, (Dondora)
It is a reddish-brown antelope with a darker head marked with black and straight horns raising vertically to about 7 inches. The Steinbok, unlike other gazelles, prefer to live singly or in pairs, often sighted in grassy country, living many miles from water.
Is similar in appearance and habits with the Steinbok. They differ in that the Oribi has dark grandular patches beneath the ears with its horns set at a slight angle backward. Although it was once extant on the slopes of Mt. Kenya, the Oribi is now confined to bushland and open country.
The Dikdik, (Suguya)
Standing barely over a foot in height, it is one of the smallest antelopes in Kenya. These dainty antelopes, usually seen in pairs, are easily distinguishable by their long noses and greyish colouring.
Also relatively small in size, it’s best sighted in rocky outcrops and hills in the bush country. Its uniquely grizzled coat is coarse and springy, acting as a cushion against collision and it seems to walk on the tips of its hooves so as to grip rocks. Its smalls horns, sometimes present in females, are vertical on the broad head.
All gazelles are antelopes, but not all antelopes are gazelles. Fact: Gazelles are a genus of antelope group and antelopes belong to the bovidae family. Together they make up quite a misce-miscellaneous group which include impala, the kudu, gazelle, oryx, waterbuck, eland, wildebeest and many more.
Gerenuk, (Swala Twiga)
This unusual looking antelope is usually seen in the bush country, mainly around Samburu and in northern Kenya. Rather easy to identify by its long neck and long legs, it may be seen singly or in groups, feeding off acacia thorn trees, often rearing on its hind legs to reach higher branches.
Happy in the swamps, this shy antelopes often submerges until only the face is above water when it is frightened. It is sturdy and fairly common, rarely found far from water. It sports a greyish-brown coat, and only the males carry the broad ringed horns. Its elongated hooves that spread out helps it navigate the soft ground.
Is another antelope which like to be near water and sports a thick greyish-brown coat. A gregarious animal, the waterbuck may form herds consisting of eight to thirty individuals, led by a single male. A much larger white patch on the ramp distinguishes the Defassa from the common waterbuck.
Yellow Backed Duiker
Nysa in Swahili, this rare and fairly large antelope, native to West Africa, is found in small numbers in Mau Reserve. The broad triangle of yellow hair on its back and rump show up well against the blackish of its body. It is nearly three times larger than its close relative the Blue Duiker.
Standing about one metre at the shoulder and weighing 80 kgs, the Puku which sports a sandy brown coat is distinguished by its long-haired coat and its forward-pointing horns reaching over 20 inches in the males. It is a social antelope thriving in small herds, with a single male taking charge.
“The bushbuck relies on forest
coverage for shelter and food” and is seen more in forests than in the open country. It may be seen singly or in groups and is widely spread throughout the woodlands in Africa – including South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
This handsome antelope is best known for its unique long horns that bend slightly backwards. In medieval England the Oryx horns were marketed as unicorn horns. Standing at 4 feet, this strapping animal is a master of semi-desert and desert habitats and is able to be extant with no or little water.
Sometimes known as Pofu in Swahili, this is a storky antelope, and at nearly 6 ft at the shoulder and weighing in at half a ton it is the largest antelope to be seen in Kenya. Although so well-built, it is agile and can make spectacular leaps. It thrives in the savannas.
It is probably the commonest antelope on the plains, regularly gathering in herds numbering many hundreds. Its grey body, long beard, buffalo like horns, shaggy mane and odd cavorting gait makes the Gnu one of the ungainliest looking creatures in Kenya. It can live up to 40 years and walk 1,000 kms in a year.
Quite unmistakable for its pretty mahogany-red and white vertical stripes, this is mostly a nocturnal forest antelope spotted in limited habitats like Mau Range, Mount Kenya and Aberdare. Standing 4 feet at the shoulder, Bongo is the largest forest-dwelling antelope.
Lesser Kudu, (Tandala)
This is more or less a smaller version of the Kudu or greater Kudu, and is rather similar in general appearance – the major differences being the lack of a beard, more numerous vertical white stripes on its body, less developed spiral-ringed horns.
Kudu, (Tandala Kubwa)
It probably has the most unique horns of the antelopes with long magnificent spiral ringed horns. In contrast with the lesser Kudu, it has a throat fringe, males have a beard and they have less strips.
The Art of Animal Tracking: Part 1
Every new day in the wilder places in Kenya, wildlife in their numbers roam the grasslands, woodlands and riverine habitats on an endless cycle of life. As a rule of thumb, the best times to sight wildlife is the early morning hours and in the early evenings. Then, after the warm African sun kicks in, many of these wildlife succumb in shaded areas often hidden by the glades which makes spotting them harder. Others retire to underground boroughs to escape both the sun and the danger of predators. Still others find the tops of tree a useful resting top. That said, most wildlife parks, reserves and conservancies are never without a great concentration of game especially around watering holes. That cycle as well as of the habits of many animals is predictable and has long been good for guides (local and professional) with tracking the movement and whereabouts of high-minded game. Tracking is like learning to read, and with practice, the ground becomes an open book of tracking and adds the element of certainty in safaris.
To see ten thousand animals untamed and not branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told — that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and tyranny of clocks.