This is the tenth in a series of posts summarizing my experiences on our recent trip to Kenya to study East African Raptor Ecology. The previous posts:
Post 1: East African Raptor Ecology
Post 2: The Big Cats!
Post 3: The Vultures of Maasai Mara
Post 4: Giraffes!
Post 5: More Raptors of Kenya: Chanting-goshawks and Buzzards
Post 6: The Vulures of Maasai Mara Revisited
Post 7: The large mammals of Kenya
Post 8: Eagles, Eagles, and more Eagles.
Post 9: Kingfishers, Rollers, and Bee-eaters
The primary purpose of our trip to Kenya was to focus on the raptors and birds. As I have reported earlier, the diversity of raptors and other birds was absolutely astounding. This is not to diminish the diversity of other animals as well. I have reported about the four species of cats, hippos, giraffes, elephants, rhinos, a buffalo. Here I will highlight many of the other mid-sized mammals that we saw on our trip. I am sure that there are many other species hidden away in my photo archive and in my brain that didn't make it into this post.
Upon arrival at Lake Naivasha, the first wildlife we saw was the Vervet Monkey. These guys were not at all bothered by our presence. In fact, we had to make sure that we kept our distance.
There was one aspect of the Vervet Monkey that I didn't catch in any of my photos. They have bright turquoise blue colored balls! We had watched them for some time before one of the males displayed his goods. It was quite shocking at first glimpse.
A less active monkey, at least in my observations, is the Colobus Monkey. We also observed them in smaller groups, one to two, instead of large groups (10-15) that we saw of the Vervet.
The third primate we observed was the Babboon. We would see lots of Babboons, most every place we went. They too were uninhibited by our presence. We had been warned to give them a good amount of distance as they can be quite aggressive.
At Lake Naivasha our camp collects water run off from the roof of the cabins. This is the water, instead of lake water, that is purified for drinking purposes. On our last morning there was watched as a Babboon crawled in and dipped its butt in the water tank. When travling in Africa, you just can't worry about these things... We kept telling ourselves that our parasite load in the United States is far to low. We were there to make up for that.
We would see zebra most every place we would go. One night at Lake Naivasha, I awoke to the sound of chomping. I slowly pull the curtain back to see a zebra just outside the window. We would see them daily in our camp.
The warthogs were a popular attraction within our vehicle. Whenever we would see one, it would be proclaimed how cute it was. Clearly a different definition of cuteness than I am used to. Anyway, they were pretty cool to watch. Many had young warthogs running around. Lynelle, one of my classmates, stated that they are so ugly that they cross over the boundary to the other end of the scale, thus they can be called cute.
I understand the Wildebeest migration is an impressive time to be in Maasai Mara. That occurs later in the year, but we still saw many individuals.
My favorite of all of the antelope are the Topi. Their crisp, clean, multi-colored look is impressive. They often stand individually on a mound of dirt as if proclaiming to be king of their mound.
Not nearly as striking or as beautiful as the Topi is the Common Eland. They do have interesting black squares on thh back of their knees which improves their appearance when standing. I can't tell if that is moss or dirt on his horns.
The Hartebeest gains some uniqueness points with their narrow horns, narrow face, narrow body, and narrow stance. Who knows, maybe they aren't so thin in richer times.
There were tons of Impala. These were referred to as the 111's. If you look at their butt you see three black stripes - 111. I think it is interesting to look at the various predator avoidance strategies in the animal markings. Stripes on the butt is a popular method. The Eland's have the black square on their knees. I have to believe it is there for predator confusion. The Waterbuck (no photos) has a bull's-eye on its butt. I am not sure that is such a good strategy!
The gazelle's, or as we like to call them, "Cheetah Snacks" were abundant in most locations. Probably the result of fewer cheetahs. There were Thompson's (pictured) and Grant's. The Thompson's have the side stripe, the Grants have the pants (white from their legs comes up over their butt).
Now that you have seen all of the prey species, here are the predators. The Black-backed Jackal fills a similar ecological role to the North American Coyote. They appeared to be about the same size and have similar mannerisms.
The Spotted Hyena provided a good show on a number of occasions. One morning in Maasai Mara, four Spotted Hyenas were following a Cape Buffalo with a newborn calf. The buffalo was walking quickly to catch up with the herd. The Hyensa were hoping they wouldn't. As the distance closed, the buffalo did rally the herd for protection so the Hyenas stayed hungry. In another location we observed a hyena feeding on a cow carcass. The cow was obviously lost as they are not supposed to be within the park boundaries. While feeding the hyena was very leary and kept a close eye out for any incoming enemies.
There are probably a few mammal photos I missed, but that's a good run down. I am nearing the end of the "Kenya" series of blog post. Probably only one or two more.