When most people think of a Kenyan safari, they envision chasing the Big 5 across the open savannahs in a safari land cruiser! But if you look closely, you’ll notice that there’s more to Kenya’s wildlife than its majestic beasts. In this article, we will look at some of our favorite lesser-known species to see on a Kenya vacation.
1. The African Wild Dogs.
The African Wild Dogs are one of the most endangered carnivorous animals in Africa. Their decrease in numbers is usually attributed to poaching, habitat fragmentation, and the spread of infectious diseases. These animals prefer a wider geography, therefore in Kenya, they can be tracked in the Laikipia region and Meru National Park. They are cunning pack hunters that can hunt prey as large and bulky as zebras or as fast as gazelles.
The gerenuk antelopes are among the five special animals that can be spotted within the arid reserves of Samburu. These animals look like a hybrid of giraffe-gazelle with a long neck, large ears, and a unique way of feeding. They are sexually dimorphic species, with males easily distinguished from females due to their impressive lyre-shaped horns that the female lacks. As dry-country specialists, these animals can go their entire life without drinking water as their diet consists of leaves, shoots from prickly bushes and trees, and also flowers, fruits, and buds which offer them most of their moisture.
3. Rothschild’s Giraffes.
The Rothchild’s giraffes got their name from the world-renowned zoologist Walter Rothschild, who first described these northern giraffe subspecies. They are also sometimes referred to as the Baringo giraffes, or even the Ugandan giraffe, due to their presence across the border in Uganda. These giraffes are one of Africa’s most endangered giraffes, despite their recent increase in population thanks to initiatives such as the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi. The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi is one of the most popular places to spot them as they pop their heads into the breakfast room to start the day with you.
4. Honey Badgers.
The Honey badgers got their name from their fondness for honey and nothing to do with their temperament, which is far from pleasant. They are one of the most fearless creatures that can take down most wild animals from crocodiles to venomous snakes such as cobras, black mambas, and pythons. These animals prefer to feed on everything from honeybee larvae, and bird eggs to insects and snakes. They also have a strong immunity similar to that of a mongoose, which protects them from venomous snakes.
5. Lilac-Breasted Rollers.
The Lilac-breasted rollers are beautiful African birds known for their aerial acrobatics during the breeding season. These birds are unofficially designated as Kenya’s national birds. Interestingly, Lilac-breasted rollers prefer mating with a single partner for life. Both females and males are equally stunning unlike most other birds, where males tend to be more attractive. They usually appear to be the same, with the juveniles lacking the long tail streamers seen in adults. In Kenya, these birds can mostly be seen at Samburu National Reserve, Laikipia Region as well as Meru National Park.
The Pangolins are shy ant-eaters that are very scaly from head to tail. These animals are nocturnal solitary creatures that prefer hunting at night. They are one of the most illegally trafficked animals on the planet due to the illegal demand for their scales, which are mistakenly thought to have healing properties. Their scales, just like that of rhino horns, are made of keratin, the same substance that makes up our hair and nails. In Kenya, Pangolins are highly protected and can sometimes be very difficult to spot in the wild.
7. Sea Turtles.
There are seven species of sea turtles around the world, with Kenya boasting five, including the leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and olive ridley. The hawksbill turtle and green turtles are two of the most frequently encountered ones along Kenyan beaches. These two popular species help to clean up the corals and feed on the seagrasses. Interestingly, sea turtles in Kenya are also classified as protected by legislation that prohibits any form of direct exploitation of these animals or their products. In fact, some hotels, even have protected areas where guests are welcome to see them nesting on the beach, and watch as tiny turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean for the first time.
The Galagos or bushbabies are small nocturnal primates that live on tree branches. These animals are usually referred to as nagapies, which translates to “night monkeys.” They have distinctive large eyes to allow them to see well at night and their tails, like that of any other primates, help them maintain balance in the trees. They are also extremely agile and can jump up to 7 feet high when hunting for insects in the air. In Kenya, the galagos can mostly be found in reserves such as Lake Nakuru National Park as well as the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
The caracal, also known as the “desert lynx,” is the largest of Africa’s small cats. This wild cat has no distinguishing pattern on its coat. In fact, its main distinguishing feature is its large tufted ears, slimmer body, and proportionally longer legs. They are incredibly agile meaning that they can leap up to three meters into the air to swat birds from the sky. They are also fearless hunters that can take on anything from monkeys to large mammals like impalas. The best way to spot them during your Kenyan safari is by taking a night game drive as these cats prefer hunting at night.
Kenya is home to two types of flamingos, The greater flamingo, and The lesser flamingo. The greater flamingos, true to their name, are big and tall in size with beaks that are light pink with a black tip compared to the small lesser flamingos that have a deep pink color on their feathers, with beaks that are deep red with a black tip. Interestingly, both lesser and greater flamingos reside in the same habitat and are found in flocks of ten to more than ten thousand. Lake Bogoria, Nakuru, and Elementaita are the three popular habitats for these birds in Kenya
GET IN TOUCH
To contact an expert travel planner to start planning your adventure in Kenya, click the button below: