While on safari in Kenya, rare wildlife sightings await you around every corner and behind every bush.
Huge herds of wildebeest, or members of the iconic Big Five often make their presence known to the safari goer and the sheer abundance of wildlife in Kenya ensures the safari of a lifetime.
Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp is happily set in this Kenyan wilderness environment, where wildlife rules. Here are a few recent guest sightings and interesting animal facts about them that are bound to make you green with safari envy:
Guests get lucky on honeymoon
Spotting a pangolin in its natural environment is possibly the most exciting safari sighting. Many guides will retire without ever having seen one. However, honeymoon couple, Ibrahim and Nicole from the US, got lucky when they came across the extremely rare pangolin wandering through the Olderkesi conservancy.
Watch the video of their rare wildlife sighting.
With its armoured shell and peculiar walk, the humble pangolin looks more like an anteater prepped for medieval battle than an animal under threat of extinction. Sadly, the illegal trade of pangolins in South Asia has now earned the scaly mammals the unenviable title of ‘most trafficked animal on earth’. Some estimates claim that pangolin sales account for up to 20 per cent of the entire wildlife black market. Considering the number of wildlife species on the black market, this is a truly terrifying statistic.
What makes this pangolin so special?
- When pangolins feel threatened, they curl up into a tight, almost impenetrable, ball to protect their vulnerable undersides.
- When the pangolins tongue is fully extended, it can be up to 16 inches (over 40 centimeters) longer than its entire body length!
- Pangolins are the only mammals in the world covered in scales.
- A pangolin can eat 70million ants a year. They have no teeth but grind them up in their stomachs.
- The word ‘pangolin’ comes from the Malay word ‘penggulung’, which means ‘one that rolls up’
- Pangolins have become highly endangered through the use of their scales in Chinese medicine, as well as being eaten as a delicacy in Vietnam.
The eagle has landed
From small and scaly to huge and feathery! Guests at Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp were also recently lucky enough to sit and admire a Martial Eagle. Clearly tired after catching its breakfast, the eagle was taking a well-deserved break. Working for your food definitely means something different in the wild.
With their captivating bright yellow eyes, slate-grey back and crest, white belly with black speckles, and enormous feet with impressive 6cm hind talons – Martial Eagles are nothing short of spectacular. This eagle is also Africa’s largest eagle, with a wingspan that stretches up to 2.75m – that is bigger than the height of a standard door!
Unfortunately, Martial Eagle numbers are in decline throughout their range and are now listed as a vulnerable species by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). At present, it is estimated that there are around 20 breeding pairs of Martial Eagles in the entire Maasai Mara ecosystem, with at least 4 pairs that utilize the area around Cottars 1920s Safari Camp.
Interesting facts about this majestic bird
- The Martial Eagle is one of the strongest eagles in Africa and can reportedly knock an adult man off his feet
- This eagle has enough power in its talons to break the arm of a man.
- The Martial Eagle is the fifth heaviest eagle (on average) in the world
- Martial Eagles feed on gamebirds, hares, hyraxes, small antelopes, monitor lizards and other medium sized vertebrates
- If a martial eagle cannot carry its prey away, which is the case for mammals over 8 kg, it will eat it there on the ground, returning to feed for up to 5 days.
- These eagles have extremely keen eyesight (3.0-3.6 times human acuity) and can spot potential prey up to five kilometres away!
Experiencing and sightings like these turn into memories that will last a life time. The sad truth, however, is that these wildlife encounters are becoming more and more rare as the list of endangered wildlife grows. We hope that they can be around for the future generations to enjoy.
Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust
Cottars is a camp that is focused on preserving Kenya’s wildlife in any way possible. They have setup a trust in order to support just such conservation action. Cottars Wildlife Conservation Trust (CWCT) supports the establishment of a 6,000 acre Olderikesi Wildlife Conservancy pilot project on the boundary and key wildlife corridor of the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Serengeti National Park. CWCT has been actively engaged in the preservation of natural habitats and wildlife in the area and in securing the area from poachers, and for the protection of the community.
Find out more about this initiative here