Seeing faunas on Kilimanjaro is a very opportune moment. Many wildlife creatures prefer not to habilitate areas where there are thousands of people marching about. So, best case scenario: you may only see a monkey or a mouse here and there. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on sighting animals on Mt. Kilimanjaro; you never know what you might see
Wildlife on Kilimanjaro spread themselves into different zones of the mountains. The most important zones are:
Forest and Cultivated zones
You’ll find more animals in the forest zone than on anywhere else on Mt Kilimanjaro. Still, the wildlife here hides behind the plentiful bushes and trees of the forest zone, making animal sightings rare.
Animals which you would see in abundance though are Horombo’s grass mice and colobus monkeys which love to watch humans as much as we love to see them. You can catch blue monkeys chilling close to the Mandara Huts. In truth, these monkeys aren’t really blue; they are either grey or black having a white throat.
Creatures that you would hardly see are leopards, civets, baboons, mongooses and servals. These animals live deep in forests but rarely show themselves. Bush pigs are just as rare. Carnivores also live in the mountain’s forest in areas where they cannot be disturbed. You have he honey badger, the lions and the aardvarks.
Near the cultivated zone, you may hear the sounds of bush babies at night and the noise of tree hyrax. A creature you will definitely not see is the rhinoceros. Hunting expeditions have driven the species close to extinction. Kilimanjaro may not have any rhinoceros near or close to its mount.
Heath, moorland and above
Upwards of 2800m on Kilimanjaro, creatures and plant life alike find it very difficult to survive on the deserted upper slopes. But there are some animals who brave the higher reaches of Kilimanjaro.
Animals you may see in abundance are four-striped grass mouse. These creatures hardly seem bothered by the high altitude. They scurry about, in all directions. If you tread the Marangu Route, you may find them running past you in a hurry.
Your best chance to see wilder creatures would be at an altitude of 2800m and beyond. On the Shira Plateau, lions roam about occasionally. Buffalos are also seen occasionally.
The most commonly sighted animals are elands, bushbucks and dunkers. Still, like leopards, buffaloes and giraffes, the relatively larger creatures, they are only seen at opportune moments. Above 5500m, the alpine levels of the mountain, there have been reports of special large spider species. But they stay underground to avoid the mountain’s weather.
Kilimanjaro is home to may birds. The cultivated fields of the lower reaches provide food and plenty nesting sites and the upper slopes are the hunting grounds of Raptors.
When you move through the forest, on the Machame route, keep an eye out for the noisy Hartlaub’s turaco which has beautiful bright red wings. Also look out for the elegant hornbills and spotted mousebirds that leisurely hand around fruit trees in the forest. Smaller birds are easy to sight such as Ruppel’s Robin and the bulbul. White necked ravens are commonly seen around campsites on Kilimanjaro. The small alpine chat hangs around huts; these small birds love cold conditions.
The most elegant bird on Kilimanjaro is the malachite sunbird. It is commonly found on Mweka route. Having a beautiful scarlet patch on its metallic green body, the malachite sunbird can be witnessed soaring above the grasses, digging its long beak into nectar.
The higher up you ascend on Kilimanjaro, the further you go into the raptor territory. These birds are very difficult to see. They spend most of their time gliding about searching for pretty. Examples of Raptors are the mountain and augur buzzards.
There are so many exceptional species of birds on Kilimanjaro. If you are fortunate enough to see one of the many elegant birds in person, drink in the moment. You may never see another one.