|Warning, this entry has lots of photos (but only a fraction of those that we took). We couldn't choose our favourite animal shots, so have included lots of zebras, giraffes, chimps & co.
SWEETWATERS GAME RESERVE
On our last day in Nanyuki, we headed out to Sweetwaters Game Reserve. Only 30 mins from Nick & Juliet's house, Sweetwaters is a 90 sq km private reserve run by Ol Pejeta Ranching and is home to a variety of plains wildlife. After weeks of seeing animals in the wild, it was an interesting change to view them from within a game reserve.
The first thing we noticed upon meeting a herd of zebras was that they just casually looked at the car and then kept on about their business - obviously they were very used to car loads of tourists getting up close and taking their photo.
It was great to be able to get so close to the animals and practically have them pose for the camera, but we're glad we were able to experience the thrill of stumbling upon them in the wild first.
MORANI - THE BLACK RHINO
The Rhino population in Africa is facing extinction - especially the black rhino. In the 1970's it was estimated there were 70,000 rhino in Kenya, by the 1990's this was down to just 300 rhinos mainly due to poaching. Thankfully conservation efforts have seen this number rise to 520 rhinos today but a lot of work still needs to be done to save the rhino.
At Sweetwaters they have a black rhino called Morani, who is completely tame (or as tame as a rhino can be). With the help of a ranger (with a big gun) we were able to enter Morani's compound and pat him for a few minutes. His skin was very rough and he was in need of a facial but otherwise it was an amazing experience to get so close to a black rhino.
Morani means young warrior in the Masai language. In 1974, the poor rhino was orphaned when poachers killed his mother. He was only 6 months old. After some time in the Nairobi Animal Orphanage he was released back into the wild only to be picked on by the alpha male rhino. He was moved again and had a girlfriend (so the story goes) which infuriated the alpha rhino in this area too. There was a fight and poor Morani was castrated by the horn of the other rhino. Ouch. For his own safety it was decided he was better off in a game reserve, rather than constantly having his (lack of) manhood challenged by other wild rhinos.
AND SOME CHIMPS
Whilst chimpanzees are not indigenous to East Africa there is a chimp sanctuary located within Sweetwaters. This area is a haven for chimps rescued from Central and Western Africa where they are poached and their body parts sold of the black market as part of witch doctory and black magic.
There was a horrific display about this trade, and what makes it even sadder is that chimpanzees have 98.4% of the same DNA as humans. Apparently we are only one chromosome different. The gestation period for babies is even similar (8 months for chimps).
INTERESTING ANIMAL FACTS
- is the only animal born with horns
- has the same number of neck bones as all other mammals. A human, a giraffe and a mouse ALL have seven bones forming the neck
- the world's tallest giraffe measured nearly 6 metres tall, taller than a double-decker bus
- has over 40,000 muscles in its trunk
- is the largest living land mammal, it can weight 6 tonnes and its tusks up to 91 kg each
- adult elephants consume up to 200 kg of plant food each day, which is grasped by the trunk and placed in the mouth
- has the largest mouth of any land mammal and it can weigh up to 4 tonnes
- can carry twice their own body weight, often dragging their kill up a tree to protect it from scavengers like hyena and jackals
- warthogs travel in groups called sounders