Animals of East Africa

Animals of East Africa
Eastern Africa is home to an incredible assortment of mammals and birds, and the many game parks are trying desperately to preserve them. These parks are open to visitors for a small fee and allow many people to experience an amazing, ancient world that is struggling to survive. Safari Jeeps come equipped with open rooftops, so passengers can safely enjoy driving next to herds of wildebeests, buffalo and zebras while numerous predatory cats lurk on the hillsides.

The Masai Mara

This Kenyan national game park lies next to Tanzania on the northern end of the Serengeti plains and is filled with many species of animals and birds. The wildebeest is an antelope that looks like it is half buffalo. It is plentiful in this region and is the main food supply for the many carnivores of the Serengeti. The immense herds are constantly migrating to find food, while the lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas and wild dogs are forced to follow them. The zebras are the cat's favorite food, so they often hide in the middle of the wildebeest herds. The large cape buffalo roam on their own, and dozens of species of deer and antelope are common sights. The giraffes tower into the tops of the trees, and it is common to see elephants and black and white rhinos. The rivers are home to hippopotami and giant crocodiles, and the air and trees are filled with more than 400 species of birds.

Ngorongoro Crater

This 16-mile diameter and 2,000-foot deep crater boarders the Serengeti and offers incredible views of Mount Killamongiro, along with a wide array of wild animals. The lush crater is the home of about 30,000 animals, but half of these are wildebeests or zebras. Lions are the king of this domain, but spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and three species of jackals are also common. Giraffes and the large elephant herds prefer to roam above the crater, but mature bulls with large tusks often venture inside. Black rhinos are also a common sight, and local herdsmen can be seen grazing their cows next to herds of cape buffalo and gazelles. The lakes and swamps provide habitat for many hippos, as well as a large population of flamingos and other birds. The watering holes attracts desperate beasts during seasonal droughts, and it is probable to see a wide array of wild beasts fighting for survival. A dense concentration of varied wildlife in such a small area provides a thrilling sight for wildlife viewers and makes this one of Africa's main attractions.

The birds

Eastern Africa is home to more than 400 species of birds, and they alone would make a trip worthwhile. The birds are seldom mentioned because the lions are more exciting to watch, but there are many spectacular species and close range views of beautiful and large birds are common. The ornately adorned secretary bird is probably the most famous, but eagles, buzzards, guinea fowl, and many species of ducks and geese can also be seen. The lakes are often filled with pink flamingos, and the frequent sightings of many unique species create a birdwatching paradise.

The Primates

Most of the primates prefer a dense jungle setting, but a few species have made eastern Africa their home. The very colorful black colobus and Sykes' monkeys are rare sights and are usually found along the slopes of Mount Kenya. Vervets are a common sight in most of the national parks, and they usually hang out in tourist areas. The olive and the yellow baboons are large monkeys with dog-like heads that live and travel in troops. They are often seen grazing with their families. They are fearless and have been known to attack humans when threatened. Uganda is home to the famous mountain gorillas and visiting them can be an inspiring experience. They are the largest primate and are on the brink of extinction, so viewing is highly regulated.

Article Written By John Mattson

John Mattson is an architectural engineer, adventure writer, and photographer who has traveled to many remote corners of the earth. He has recently self-published a colorfully photographed book of 26 diverse and extreme adventure stories titled "Dancing on the Edge of an Endangered Planet."

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