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What you must know about the Kenyan big five animals

These are the big five game of Kenya....

African Elephant

The African elephant is an almost hairless humongous herbivore that can grow up to 6000kg (6.6tons). The Loxodonta africana  can also grow to a height of 3.3 meters (10ft) at the shoulder.

It is the largest land mammal in the world. It has a large dexterous trunk, long curved tusks and massive ears. The elephant regularly flaps its ears in order to cool off in the heat of the day. Both male and female elephants’ tusks are modified incisors.

Like in humans the baby tusks in infants fall out. Thereafter the fallen ‘milk tusks’ are replaced by permanent tusks. The tusks continue growing for the rest of the elephant’s life.


The elephant’s tusks are used for foraging, fighting, digging and resting place for the elephant’s heavy trunk.

The trunk is used for smelling, breathing, detecting vibrations, caressing their young, sucking up water and grasping objects.

There are roughly 30,000 to 38,000 elephants in Kenya according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.


The rhino is a large herbivore whose skin is largely grey in colour and hairless. It has two horns on its face of which, the longer one sits at the front.


The rhino has a relatively poor eyesight but very good sense of smell and hearing.

There are two types of rhinoceros. The white rhino and the black rhino.

The major difference between the two is the width of the face. The white rhino has a wider muzzle which is an adaptive feature for grazing.

The black rhino feeds by browsing and therefore has a triangular-shaped upper lip ending in a mobile grasping point.

There are about three remaining northern white rhinos in Kenya. In fact they are the only ones remainig in the whole world.


Kenya has an estimated population of 540 black rhinos.


The buffalo is the only species of wild cattle that can be found in Africa. The buffalo requires habitats that receive at least 10 inches of rain per year because it heavily depends on water.

The buffaloes graze in herds that consist of calves, their mothers and a male. Males which do not have families form their own herds and live a solitary life.

Buffaloes which are lonely and segregated are most hostile. Though they may have poor eyesight and poor sense of hearing, they have an excellent sense of smell. The buffalo also has very good memory such that it remembers predators. It will therefore defend itself vehemently if accosted by a predator.


Pregnancy of a mother buffalo lasts eleven and a half months giving birth to one calf.


The lion is a ferocious bold wild cat that is carnivorous in nature. The lion’s scientific name is Panthera leo. It is famously known as the King of the jungle because of its fearless nature. It can attack even when not provoked. If accosted by danger the first instinct is to defend itself and fight.

The lions are social animals who live in prides. The lion hunts by ambushing and has extreme strength and sharp canines. The lioness hunts by chasing prey and going for the jugular.

The biggest predator to lions is man. Man has killed lions more than lions killing man.


There are roughly 200 lions in Kenya.


Leopard (Panthera pardus) is a dotted shy but very stealthy cats. The east African leopard has circular dots. The leopard fairly avoids danger but it’s very fast running up to speeds of 56 kph. The leopard can also jump up to 3 meters.


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