A Guide to the Animals of Kilimanjaro
Overlooking the Savannah plains of Tanzania and Kenya, the snow-capped mountain of Kilimanjaro rises majestically in splendid isolation to 5,895 metres, the highest point in Africa. Climbing the magnificent mountain is an unforgettable experience and on the bucket list of many visiting the surrounding national parks and reserves.
Although there’s a variety of wildlife in the forests at the foot of the mountain, they are pretty hard to spot, partly due to the amount of human visitors the area attracts.
But if you are hoping to be lucky enough to see these elusive creatures, then here’s what you can expect to find on Kilimanjaro.
Primate concentrations are highest in the clouded forest at the base of the mountain. However, the trees and bush cover is dense, so chances of seeing them are still pretty rare. The most commonly sighted primate is the blue monkey, which is actually dark grey, not blue. They aren’t as shy as other wildlife and can often be spotted along the Marangu and Rongai routes high in the treetops.
These beautiful monkeys have a distinctive black and white colouring with a long bushy tail. Far more elusive than their blue cousins, rare sightings have occurred in the forest above the Mandara Huts.
Appearances can be deceptive. Despite its cute looking face and small size, the honey badger is a tenacious carnivore and one of the most fearless animals in Africa. They’ve even been known to attack lions.
Most commonly known as bush babies, these long-tailed wide-eyed primates are most likely to be heard rather than seen a night. Their distinctive ‘shriek’ is unmistakeable, and a little unnerving.
Four-Striped Grass Mouse
The further up the mountain you go, the less wildlife there is. Rodents however can withstand the harsh, barren landscape of the upper slopes. One resident is the four-striped grass mouse, which can also be found scurrying under tables in the huts on the Marangu Route. They actually look more like a chipmunk, thanks to the distinctive stripes on their back.
Long gone are the days when forest elephants and black rhinos roamed the forests at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, although it’s not impossible to still see the odd elephant in the north-east Ambroseli side of the mountain. Buffalo can occasionally be spotted on the Shira Plateau on the Rongai Route. Giraffes and occasionally lions have also been known to wander onto the lower slopes from time to time.
What you will see in abundance though is birdlife. Malachite Sunbirds can be easily viewed in the heath and moorland areas of the Karanga Valley on the Machame Route. These stunningly beautiful birds have a distinctive bright metallic green colouring and a small scarlet patch on their chests and can often be seen hooking their long beaks into giant lobelias to extract the nectar.
Mountain buzzards, crowned eagles and the rare Lammergeyer giant vultures can also be spotted on the slopes.
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