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Sirikoi – Unlike Any Other

May 12, 2011 by Chelsea Slone

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Sirikoi, located in the Lewa Wildlife Conservany on the northern slopes of Mount Kenya, was our third camp to visit. The magical camp is situated in a shady acacia grove overlooking a natural waterhole, where the wildlife comes to visit in abundance. Different animals such as rhinos, buffalo, zebras, warthogs, and so many more would surround the tents at night grazing the green grass. During breakfast, lunch, and dinner we sat outside to see the incredible animals graze at the waterhole right before us. To top this amazing place off, they have a pet cheetah, Sheba, who they rescued, nursed back to health, and now are training her to go back into the wild.

Before I begin to tell you about the many amazing animals I have to start with a funny story. One morning I was stuck sick in bed with horrible allergies and insisted Tyler go on the game drive while I slept. Right as I had fallen back asleep, with my earplugs in and my eye mask on (necessary for sleeping late in Africa) I heard the glass coffee mugs clink together over and over. I sat straight up in bed ripped my eye mask off and three monkeys starred at me straight in the face, dropped the sugar bowl in their hand, screamed, and ran out. I get up thinking I’m going to kill Tyler for not zipping the tent up, and creeped to the tent door to zip it back up knowing a monkey would probably jump on me and give me some kind of disease. I zipped the tent, put a pillow over the zipper, and went back to bed. Minutes after I had yet again fallen back asleep I heard the same clink clink clink sound, and I thought oh my gosh how is there one stuck in here with me!! I ripped of my eye mask looked up and saw the mokeys bum in the air running straight out of the tent… It had put the sugar bowl back on the table and cleaned up the sugar mess on the floor. Hahaha! I then realized, with sugar in the tent even zipping it up won’t help. Needless to say when Tyler came back from his drive I had barricaded the tent door with two huge bean bag like chairs and all the pillows in the room and was sitting wide eyed in the middle of the bed waiting for them to try again. He died laughing.

In the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy there are two types of Zebra; the Burchell (common) zebra that we saw at Richard’s Camp and the Grevy zebra. The Grevy zebra are the largest zebra species, and can be very easily disgunished from the commons with their large ears and thin circular stripes. They are also different from the common zebras in personality, as females and their foals wander in overlapping home ranges and only visit the males as they like. The males roam in groups called bachelor pads, and as a species seem to lack social bonds.

The Reticulated giraffe found in this area are also very different from the Masai giraffe we had previously seen in the Mara. The Reticulated giraffe in my opinion are much more beautiful with their brick shaped pattern and deep golden color defined by narrow white lines. One of the most fascinating facts about the giraffe is how long they sleep, five to thirty five minutes in a twenty-four hour time period. A giraffe back legs are ten percent longer than their front legs. Although giraffes normally move at a very leisurely pace, they can run at a speed of 34 mph. While running fast, the back legs cross the front legs. However, because of their high blood pressure (which is necessary to pump blood to the brain via the long neck), giraffes cannot sustain a protracted chase. Because of their lanky legs, predators sometimes see giraffes as easy prey. Their legs are very powerful, however, and are capable of delivering a kick that can decapitate a lion.

Warthogs in Lewa are found in abundance. These fierce tusked hogs might seem mean at first, but it’s rare to see their face for long. When a warthogs gets spooked it sticks its adorable tail in the air and runs 35 mph with it’s family of one or two generations in the opposite direction. Warthogs live and breed in termite mounds. Usually commandeering the burrows created by ardvarks. The warthogs move to and from an average of ten different burrows, which are on a first come, first serve basis.

Both Black and White Rhinoceros can be seen in Lewa Wildlife Conservotory. White Rhinos are named by the Dutch word weit meaning wide due to their wide square mouth. The white rhino is also much larger than the black rhino, at times even double in size. Black Rhinos are an unmistakable, prehistoric-looking creature with a two horned head. While the rear horn can measure 16 inches, the front horn can be over 40 inches. A rhino’s horn is composed of a tightly packed fiberous protein, called keratin. Powered rhino horn has been used for centuries in Asia, and is considered to have almost supernatural healing powers for a wide varity of illnesses. In Northern Yemen The horns are also used for dagger handles, which are prize symbols of manhood. Due to the value of a rhino horn, the species has become severely endangered and less than 2,500 survive in the wild today.

The beautiful leopard, which we only found to come out after dark, was one of the most fascinating creates we saw in Africa. Though leopards are the most numerous of the world’s big cats, they are the least likely to be seen. Their distinct rosette pattern and muscular physique is very easily differentiated from a chettah. Both male and female leapords are solitary, netting only to mate. Leopards are unbelievably strong and can carry a hundred pound carcass up into a tree clasped in their mouth. In the 1960’s and 1970’s 60,000 leapords were being killed a year to furnish the the skin trade. However due to the decline in popularity of furs in the western countries and restrictions of trade with endangered species, these cats are doing much better now than they were a few years ago.

Leaving this camp was difficult. The owners and hosts Willie and Sue truly showed us how amazing it can be to live in the beautiful parts of untouched East Africa. You learn how a garden can be all you need for food, and an abundance of clothing isn’t necessary because when you look out and see the breathtaking nature and wildlife before you, life can be as peaceful as you please. Sirikoi was truly was a magical place filled with animals and beauty each and every step out of the door no matter the time of day. Even though we didn’t want to go it was the perfect place to say goodbye to the amazing wildlife found in Kenya and get ready to visit the gorillas in Rwanda.


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