Jason’s greatest fear is encountering man eating mammals on the expedition – so let’s take a closer look at the immense wildlife population on Mount Kilimanjaro and the forests that cover the lower slopes.
There are around 140 species of mammals on the mountain, including 7 primates, 25 carnivores (sorry Jason), 25 antelopes and 24 species of bat (keep those beanies on). As well as hundreds of bird species, insects and spiders, there are also at least 7 larger mammals that have been recorded above the tree line – to name a few:
- Tree Hyrax (angry looking giant tree rat)
- Grey & Red Duikers (sort of look like a small vulnerable deer)
- Eland (a hench antelope that will head-butt any threat into next week)
- Bushbuck (a smaller, graceful antelope)
- Buffalo and Elephants (you know what these big guys are)
As evident, there are a lot of creatures whose homes Rich & Jason are entering, so due care will need to be taken and about a dozen sets of eyes are required at all angles.
The Kilimanjaro journey includes several different ecological zones which all present differing animal and bird species. The wildlife they’ll come across will diminish the higher they climb…apart from the dreaded creepy-crawlies that can endure the weather, which in some parts above 4000m can be 35°c during the day then below freezing at night.
Primates are ones to keep an eye out for; particularly Baboons, Blue Monkeys and Colobus Monkeys. These nimble tree swingers are renowned for their devilish behaviour and depending what mood they’re in, they may see a group of humans as an opportunity to play. They’re commonly seen amongst the lower camps due to their curious nature – perhaps hide your food guys?
Have you ever heard of a Bush Baby (don’t be fooled by the cute connotations of this nickname and their really big innocent eyes); or Galago Monkey as they’re actually named? Rich & Jason will definitely hear their midnight shrieks – often likened to a distressed infant, hence the nickname (told you). Rich will be hoping Jason’s snoring muffles the sound to avoid jumping out of his skin, as he attempts to doze off. The Galago Monkey is not alone; many of the creatures on the mountain will be heard but not seen, which is probably a good thing!
Watch your step
As the trek unfolds, tired legs and a tired mind will kick in, but it’s always important the guys watch their step – particularly in the forest areas. Although encounters may be rare due to their sensitivity to movement, therefore scuttling away before you get near, snakes can easily camouflage themselves amongst the leaves and forest floor. If unlucky enough to brush against, say a Gaboon Viper (they move for no man or beast), the slithery serpent will react, and one bite could be fatal. To Rich & Jason’s untrained eyes, all snakes will pose a threat, so respecting them and their habitat is definitely wise.
Mind your head
What with about 179 bird species within Mount Kilimanjaro, the guys will see a multitude of weird and wonderful winged creatures. If they’re very lucky, they may see birds of prey, such as the African Crowned Eagle on the hunt for its favourite meal – large birds, monkeys or small deer. They don’t hunt over the slopes for long however as the temperature and altitude gets too much to bear.
There are the more commonly recognised animals in the surrounding areas of the mountain, such as Zebra, Lion (yes Jason, Lions!), Mongoose, Giraffe, Buffalo etc, however it’s unlikely that Rich & Jason will get too close on the trekking routes. Having said that, there is a huge amount of wildlife they will encounter, which will create once in a lifetime experiences. We’ve not even scratched the wildlife surface!
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