5 Incredible Animal Adaptations to Life on the Plains

The natural world is a truly fascinating thing. Countless variations of animal life come about due to vastly differing environmental conditions – only the toughest and best-adjusted survive and flourish. But make no mistake – this creates beauty also, particularly on the Kenyan savannah. There’s nothing that compares to seeing the results of the evolutionary process up close and in the flesh, and nowhere better for doing that than here, on these sun-kissed plains. So, without further ado, here are a few fascinating wildlife facts about five of Kenya's savannah specialists...

Lions

Male lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya Male lion in the Masai Mara, Kenya

Lions are finely-tuned hunting machines, sure, but their most iconic and distinctive feature is present only in males: the mane. Manes are symbols, indicators of prowess and fertility. The general rule of thumb is the darker the mane the healthier the lion, but this has a downside for the stronger beasts; they will suffer in the extreme heat of the savannah for the privilege of looking good!

Giraffes

A tower of giraffes A tower of giraffes

You know a giraffe has a long neck for getting to those hard-to-reach tasty morsels high up in the trees, but did you know that they have 18 inch long prehensile tongues? These long, flexible muscles wrap around branches to hold them in place while the giraffe eats, and are deep purple in colour to help protect from the sun!

Elephants

African elephant up close African elephant up close

These monolithic mammals are amongst the most powerful animals on the planet. Their huge tusks are perfect for fighting and moving logs, while their trunks are incredibly versatile implements for grasping, lifting, washing, drinking and trumpeting. Also of interest are their ears – did you know that their massive surface area makes them great at regulating body temperature?

Wildebeest

Wildebeest and Zebra crossing river during migration Wildebeest and Zebra crossing river during migration

Wildebeest are big and strong, but that alone is not enough to survive in the harsh, dog-eat-dog world of the plains. Instead they opt for other tactics. Large groups increase the chances of survivability, but so do mixed groups! Wildebeest intermingle their herds with zebra to the benefit of both – zebra have better senses but the wildebeest are stronger – as well as listening out for the warning calls of other species like baboons.

Find out more about the lives of wildebeest with our Great Migration infographic.

Rhino

Rhino with her calf at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya Rhino with her calf at Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya

Rhinos are some of the planet’s hardiest animals. Until humans came along, there was not much that posed a threat to a rhino – their skin is thick, their skulls hard, their horns sharp and their strength unparalleled. Did you know that the collective noun for rhinos is a crash?

Quench your thirst for knowledge with more fascinating wildlife facts

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