“The big 5”
Kenya has a vast variety of environments, from coasts with mangrove swamps and sandy beaches sheltered by coral reefs, to flat savannah plains and deserts and lowland equatorial forests to snow-capped mountain ranges with forested and fertile slopes. With so many natural habitats, it is easy to see why Kenya boasts over a hundred species of mammals, 12 different types of primates, a range of reptiles and more than 1,000 species of birds, including over 75 birds of prey and more than ten different woodpeckers. The most famous animals in Kenya are known as ‘The Big 5’ and consist of lions, leopards, elephants, buffalos and rhinos.
On the first day of exploring the dusty streets of Nairobi, we were very lucky to see giant African Marabou Storks guarding the tallest trees. Try and make sure you don’t look up too much or you may receive an unwanted present on your face! Leptoptilos crumeniferus, as it is known to the scientific community, is a large, unusual looking bird. The peculiar African bird can reach a wing span of 2.6 meters and a height of 1.5 meters. It has a bald red spotted head and long legs. In terms of feeding, Marabous are scavengers, eating anything from termites, flamingos and small birds and mammals to human refuse and dead elephants. Occasionally, some cheeky monkeys can be seen in some of the urban parks of the capital city. The primates, are curiously searching for food and peculiar objects and can sometimes be quite aggressive. Therefore, it is best to keep your guard high and do not make a habit of feeding them. The Vervet monkey is the most popular of the Nairobi’s primates. They have a silver-grey body with a marked black face. The ridge of the eyebrows is white, and so are the feet and tail tip. The genitals of adult males are vividly coloured to signal sexual status, namely a red penis and a blue scrotum. These features have proven to be very hilarious. The Vervet monkeys are highly social animals, and occur in well organised groups, dominated by males.
The great National Parks and reserves of Kenya such as Nairobi, Masaai Mara, Tsavo, Aberdares, Samburu, Mount Kenya, Hell’s Gate are the perfect places to see the Kenyan wildlife. Responsible of the wellbeing of the local ecosystem is the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which conserves and manages Kenya’s wildlife for the Kenyan people and the world. KWS manages about 8 % of the total landmass of the country. This land contains 22 National Parks, 28 National Reserves and 5 National Sanctuaries (KWS, 2015). The latter such as the Deviid Sheldrick Wildlife Trust which embraces measures that compliment the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife. These include anti-poaching, safe guarding the natural environment, enhancing community awareness, addressing animal welfare issues, providing veterinary assistance to animals in need, rescuing and hand rearing elephant and rhino orphans, along with other species that can ultimately enjoy a quality of life in wild terms when grown. the Orphans’ Project, which has achieved world-wide acclaim through its hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. At the heart of many sanctuaries is “The Orphans Project”. Such programmes offer solutions for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, and the loss of habitat due to human population pressures and conflict, deforestation and drought (Shedldrick Wildlife Trust, 2015),