1. African Elephant
Elephants usually live in groups of 10 to 20 females and their young, congregating in larger herds at common water and food resources. A cow may mate with many bulls. Vocalizations include a deep rumble felt as a low vibration, and a high-pitched trumpeting given in threat or when frightened.
Consuming 250kg of vegetation daily, elephants can decimate woodlands, but this may be part of the savanna’s natural cycle. They live for up to 100 years. Distribution: Widely distributed in Kenya apart from the north.
Warthogs grow two sets of tusks; their upper tusks grow as long as 60cm and their lower tusks are usually less than 15cm long. Sociality varies, but groups usually consist of one to three sows and their young. Males form bachelor herds or are solitary, only associating with females during oestrus.
Warthogs feed mainly from grass, but also on fruit and bark. In hard times, they grub for roots and bulbs. They den in abandoned burrows or excavate their own burrows. Distribution: Through out Kenya except in dense rainforest and mountains above 3000m.
Hippos are found close to fresh water, sending most of the day submerged and emerging at night to graze on land. The animals can consume about 40kg of vegetation each evening. They live in large herds tolerating close contact in the water but foraging alone when on land.
The scars found on bulls resulting from conflicts are often a convenient indicator of the sex of hippos. Cows with calves are aggressive towards other individuals. Hippos are extremely dangerous when on land and kill many people each year, usually when someone inadvertently blocks the animal’s retreat to the water. Distribution: Usually found near large areas of fresh water through out Kenya.
4. African Cape Buffalo
Both animal sexes of the African Buffaloes have distinctive curving horns that broaden at the base to meet over the forehead in a massive ‘boss’-the females are usually smaller. Local populations of buffaloes in habit large home ranges and at times herds of thousands form, but the population’s social organization is fluid; groups of related females and their young coalesce and separate into larger or smaller herds.
Although generally docile, buffaloes can be dangerous-especially lone bulls, and females protecting their young. Distribution Widespread, but large populations only occur in parks of Kenya.
5. Common (grey) Duiker
One of the most common types of small antelopes, common duikers are usually solitary, but they are sometimes in pairs. They are grayish light brown animals in color, with a white belly and a dark –brown stripe down the face. Only males have horns, which are straight and pointed and rarely grow longer than 15cm.
Their habit of feeding on agricultural crops leads to them being persecuted outside of protected areas, although they are resilient to hunting. Common duikers are capable of going without water for long periods, but they will drink whenever water is available. Distribution Throughout Kenya.
6. Water buck
Waterbucks have a shaggy brown coat and white rump, face and coat markings; only males have horns. Females have overlapping ranges, coming and going to form loose associations of normally up to a dozen animals. Young, non-territorial males behave similarly.
Mature males hold territories, onto which the females wander (non-territorial males are also often allowed access) these essentially independent movements sometimes produce herds of 50 to 70. They always stay near water and are good swimmers, readily entering water to escape predators. Distribution; Wet areas through out Kenya.
Brown common reedbucks are found n the woodland areas; yellowish bohor reedbucks are prevalent on flood plains; grey mountain reedbucks inhabit grassy hill country. All have white under parts; males have forward curving horns.
Common reedbucks form pairs, though mates associate only loosely; female mountain reedbucks form small animal groups that range over the territories of several males. Distribution Throughout Kenya wherever suitable, well-watered grasslands occur.
8. Roan antelope
Roan antelopes’ coats vary from reddish-fawn to dark reddish-brown with white under parts and a mane of stiff, black-tipped hair. Their faces are black and white, their long, pointed ears tipped with a brown tassel. Both sexes have long backwards-curving horns. They prefer sites with tall grasses, shade and water.
Herds of normally less than 20 females and young range over the territories of several adult males; other males form bachelor groups. Female animal herds of up to 50 are common during the dry season when food and water are more localized. Distribution Mostly at Ruma National Park near Lake Victoria.
9. Sable Antelope
Widely considered to be the most magnificent of Africa’s antelopes, sable antelopes are slightly smaller than roan antelopes, but are more thick set. They have longer horns often reaching more than 100cm. Sables have a white belly and face markings; females are reddish brown, while mature males are a deep glossy black.
They favor habitats slightly more wooded than that of roan antelopes. Social organization of the two species is also very similar, but sable female-and-young herds are slightly larger-usually 10 to 30, but up to 70 or so. Distribution Mostly at Simba Hills National Reserve on the Kenyan coast.
Well adapted to aridity, Oryxes can survive without drinking. Oryxes are solid and powerful; both sexes carry long, straight horns. Principally grazers, they also browse on thorny shrubs. In areas with abundant water and food, populations are sometimes resident and spot a social system like that of roan antelopes.
More usually, nomadic herds number around a dozen, but can total up to 60. Herds normally contain males and females, but there are strict hierarchies within the sexes. Herds, especially if small, may also be single sex. Distribution Beisa Oryx in Northern Kenya; fringe–eared oryx in southern Kenya.
Male impalas have long, lyre shaped horns averaging 75cm in length. They are gregarious animals, forming resident herds of up to 100 or so. Males defend female herds during the oestrus, but outside the breeding season they congregate in bachelor herds. Impala are known for their speed and ability to leap-they can spring as far as 10m in one bound, or 3m into the air.
They are the common prey of lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs and spotted hyenas. Distribution Savanna regions from central Kenya extending south. Status: Very common animal and easy to see.
One of the most common medium sized antelopes. Thompson’s gazelles are smaller and form large aggregations (often of many thousands) on the open plains. They often occur with impala –sized Grants gazelles, which lack the distinctive black side stripe of the ‘Tommy’.
The social structure is flexible; herds often consist of females and young, with males defending territories around the feeding grounds of females. Distribution Thompson’s and Grant’s gazelle common in savannah and woodland. Status: Very common in Kenya.