With more than 415 species of mammals and over 1500 species of birds, East Africa is home to one of the world’s greatest wildlife collections. East Africa is one of the best destinations to view and experience the big five of Africa. The Big five are the African Elephant, Black Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and the Lion. This was developed as an old hunting term referring to the five most dangerous game animals to hunt.
The larger antelopes include Eland, Waterbuck, Kudu, Sable, Roan, Oryx, Hartebeest and Topi and can be found in various patches in Kenya and Tanzania. Where the gazelles such as Thompson’s, Grant’s and Robert’s gazelle all frequent the grassy plains, their long necked cousin the Gerenuk can be found in the more arid regions. East Africa also has three different species of giraffe, with the Massai Giraffe being found in both Kenya and Tanzania, the Reticulated Giraffe in the arid Northern Frontier of Kenya and the rare Rothschild around the soda lakes.
The Mara/Serengeti ecosystem which is in the northern area of Tanzania and the southern part of Kenya holds the great migration. This is made up of 1.7 million wildebeest and 500,000 Burchell’s Zebra, which follow the rains in a clock wise circle, between Kenya and Tanzania. The wildebeest which are ruminants (4 stomachs) eat the long grass where the zebra, whom are monogastrics (1 stomach) eat the short grasses cutting it off at its stump. Following the great migration are the predators, such as Lion, Hyena and cheetah. Not to mention crocodile tackling the beasts as they swim across the Mara river in search of greener pastures.
East African Primates are put into four groups, the Colobus monkey ( red Colobus and black and white Colobus) Colobus in greek means mutilated, due to their lack of a thumb. The Guenons which are the forest monkeys (blue, vervet, patas and De Brazza’s monkey).The Baboons, a ground dwelling, dog headed primate (olive and yellow) and the great apes being large chested primate, with no tail. (Chimpanzee and Gorilla).
From the millions of flamingos that populate the soda lakes, the birds of prey, the beautifully coloured song birds, kingfishers, water birds, and the flightless ostrich, East Africa’s bird life is second to none. This staggering diversity of their adaptation to the different environments will foster an interest in anyone and make any avid birder return again and again.
Even the smaller species will fascinate, with a grand variety of reptiles, amphibians and insects all being encountered on an average safari day.