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Mt KENYA & THE ABERDARES: Altitude & Animals


PHALANX
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On my first visit to Mt Kenya & the Aberdare’s I was surprised at the amount of game there was to be seen there. At an altitude of 2,300mt (7,000’) there are plenty of Elephants, Buffalo & once, black Rhino. There is also defassa waterbuck, bushbuck, wart hogs, and good numbers of Leopard & Hyena. Yes there is plenty to see. But! It was the smaller game that really got my attention.

A first sighting is always exciting, and my first Giant forest hog was just that. Back in the 1980’s they were quite common, but the bush meat trade has reduced their numbers dramatically. In 1986 I saw sixteen, including about ten piglets. A few years later we saw six adults with six piglets and four more out on the salient. We had only two more sightings, and the last one was in 2001. Another common sight in those days was Bush pig. Sadly, again, the last time we saw them was 2001.

2001 was a good year on Mt Kenya as this was the first time I saw, a Suni. Usually in pairs, though once we saw three and assume one was a youngster. Three more sightings followed, the last in 2012. Small spotted Genets are quite common at altitude and I even saw a melanistic one at the Ark. What surprised me was, when you get a close look you can see the pattern within the black. Mongooses are also quite common. We have seen; white tailed, slender, and marsh. There are healthy populations of Black & White Colobus & Sykes monkey’ and also Olive Baboons. At a little lower altitude, 2,000mt (6000’) on Ol Pejeta & Borana we have also seen; Steenbok (many), caracal, and wild dog.

Altitude has also given me some wonderful montane bird sightings like; Black headed & yellow bellied Waxbill, Kenrick’s starling, Black Duck, Scaly Francolin, red fronted Parrot, Hartlaub’s Turaco, Montane oriole, Golden winged Sunbird and even Marabou storks. Forest Buzzards are also here and they are very clever birds. I watched one once at Mountain lodge ambush flocks of red eyed dove’, olive & Bronze naped Pigeons. It sat high in the tree’ around the water hole waiting until there were many birds drinking, then; It would sweep down from the far side of the water hole scattering the birds towards the lodge. The lower lodge rooms have large plate glass windows and inevitably in their panic some of them fly into them rendering them unconscious or breaking their necks. The Buzzard bides it’s time then comes down to collect its dinner. There is no waste as the genets & Mongoose clean up. Yes! There is something to be said for viewing game at altitude.

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