If you are travelling through Laikipia county in Kenya and want a chance to see one of the most beautiful and largest species of antelopes in the world, as well as pet a cheetah, taking a stop at Mount Kenya Animal Conservancy is highly recommended.
Within the grounds of Mount Kenya Animal Conservancy, which is based in the equator town of Nanyuki, is a remarkable animal orphanage which looks after sick animals and breeds for release into the wild some rare ones, such as the antelope I mentioned – the bongo.
There are only around 100 mountain bongo left in the wild meaning even the much-threatened black rhino is having a better deal (around 5,000 of them left in the wild). The animal orphanage’s bongo rehabilitation programme is therefore pretty important.
The bongo themselves are gorgeous with rusty coloured coats with delicate white stripes, startlingly pink noses and two slightly wavy horns. One called Elizabeth, who is a grand old dame, wanders freely throughout the orphanage unfazed by her human admirers like a bongo Judi Dench.
Other animals also roam outside of cages including Patricia the ostrich, who has a deformed leg so would never have survived in the wild. You can give her a pat, but she didn’t seem so enthused by the show of affection from me as she then promptly demonstrated how disgusting ostrich anuses are by answering the call of nature in front of me…
Bush bucks, warthogs, caracals, llamas, a very grumpy orphan baby buffalo (the little sod charged me twice, thank god his horns haven’t grown beyond stubs yet), pygmy hippos, a leopard and cheetahs are just some of the rest of the menagerie you can witness at the orphanage behind or in front of cages (all while being shown around by a very enthusiastic guide).
One cheetah in particular was a big hit, essentially a rescued pet, she’s very happy to be stroked and will give your hand a little lick. Apparently sometimes she fails to kill live prey put in her enclosure, she’ll just play with them instead!
So if you’re looking to get a little closer to some of the animals you might only have seen at a distance on safari, as well as give money to a worthy cause (the entry fee is $15) a detour to Mount Kenya Animal Conservancy is a great way to while away an hour or two.