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Mammal-Mania

If I were ever to endeavour to see the maximum number of decent sized land-mammals in a fortnight - ie no rats, no bats - then I'd be hard pushed to choose anywhere other than Kenya for this mission.

Steve Carey of the wonderful Laikipia Wilderness Camp reckons that there is a possibility of an astounding 89 species on such a safari by incorporating a few days in the little visited Meru National Park, Laikipia, the Aberdares and the Masai Mara. Admittedly ten or so of these are pretty rare and unusual so a good dose of luck would be essential for finding them - but an incredible 64 are common, a shoo-in and so virtually guaranteed. To give this some perspective I gauge a total of 35 mammals seen on a single-country safari to be a generally realistic target, by going mammaling in Kenya you can double this.

Kenya gets a rough press from some quarters by being too popular and visions of hordes of zebra-stripe minibuses come to mind. However the truth is that these places are, given some expert advice, incredibly easy to avoid and the variety of game, birds, scenery and genuinely owner-operated camps of great charm to stay in, is second to none. Distances between entirely different eco-systems are manageable and so don't take all day, nor cost a small fortune as they may elsewhere.

How you can pusue your quarry is similarly varied - while the Kenyan National Parks themselves are quite stringently regulated, no walking, no night drives and no open vehicles, by staying on private land in game-rich country (which Kenya has in spades) you get all wildlife with none of the rules. Here you can walk, track Wild Dog, ride a horse - or camel, swim in untamed rivers and search for the myriad of animals in an open vehicle by day or night.

So if you ever have the urge to look for everything from Aardwolf to Zorilla (sic) - seek 26 antelopes from hulking Eland to diminutive Dikdik, 15 predators including six cats, or find any of the splendidly named Guereza Colobus, Blotched Genet, Bat-eared Fox, Masai Giraffe, Kongoni, Topi, Gerenuk, Bongo and Besia Oryx drop me an e-mail and we can plan a tailor-made trip to do just that.

Posted by: Rod Tether

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