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September 25, 2018

Travel Review: Animal sanctuary on the slopes of Mt Kenya

Wildlife officer Eric Mwenda with an ostrich at Mt Kenya Animal Orphanage
Wildlife officer Eric Mwenda with an ostrich at Mt Kenya Animal Orphanage

The Mt Kenya Animal Orphanage is a wildlife sanctuary with a difference. Since the 1960s, they have rehabilitated injured and orphaned animals with the goal of returning them to the wild. 

There are several bongos, large critically endangered forest antelopes with white strips on their brown fur. Tiny dik diks and duiker antelope occupy another pen. 

It’s my first time to see Sokoke forest cats with striped grey fur. They look like ordinary house cats but they were native to the coastal Arabuko Sokoke forest until they were wiped out in the 1970s. 

A pair of porcupines are sleeping inside a den. They are nocturnal and, therefore, active at night. 

Here you find the only two pygmy hippos in Kenya, animals indigenous to West Africa. There’s also a herd of llamas that look like small camels and originated from South America. Visitors climbing Mt Kenya used them as pack animals. 

A mesh-wire enclosure has five caracals, slender beige carnivores with tufted ears. They were orphaned as kittens and are being readied for a return to the wild. Another carnivore is a young leopard called Azizi, living in a tall enclosure with a large tree. She was found alone as a young cub two years ago, and hopefully she can be released one day. 

In the primate section are baboons, vervet monkeys, black-and-white colobus monkeys, Sykes monkeys and rare patas monkeys with rusty-red fur. 

Some animals stay here for life, like two large Verreaux’s eagel-owls that cannot fly because of permanent wing damage. They were attacked in their nest as chicks because of negative cultural superstations.

Captive cheetahs are very difficult to re-wild because they lack essential predatory skills. So the five cheetahs — three from the Nairobi Orphanage and two rescued in the bush — will live out their days here. 

A few of the animals roam freely in the lush grounds, like a female bush buck and a large male ostrich with black-and-white plumage that eats maize from the keeper’s hands.

The orphanage is open daily. The entrance is Sh1,500 per adult and free for up to four children. 

 

LOCATION: Nanyuki, next to Mt Kenya Safari Club

CONTACTS: +254 701 856942

 

Star Rating: 5/5

 

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