For most people Kenya means animals. The Big Five (lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard and rhino) and a huge variety of other less-famous but equally impressive animals can be seen in at least two of the major parks.
Because of its lush climate, Kenya has some huge tropical bugs, known as dudus in Swahili. Arachnophobes should watch out for the plum-sized golden orb spider, with its famously strong web, and the delightfully named Mombasa golden starburst baboon spider, regarded as a ‘small’ tarantula, as it reaches only 12cm in diameter! There are also several large species of scorpion, often seen after rain.
Perhaps Kenya’s most notorious dudu is the safari ant. These huge red ants sweep across the countryside in endless columns, consuming everything that lies in their path. Locally they’re often known as ‘army’ or ‘crazy’ ants for their brutal search-and-destroy tactics. Tribespeople use the pincers of safari ants as improvised stitches for wounds – don’t believe they work? Stick your finger into the middle of a column and see what happens!
An altogether friendlier species is the jongo (giant millipede). Although these insect behemoths can reach 20cm in length, they eat only decaying wood and will roll themselves up into a defensive coil if approached. One of the more entertaining bugs is the dung beetle, which has the unenviable task of acting as the savanna’s sewage disposal expert. It does this by rolling small amounts of dung into a ball and then, like David Beckham at his best, dribbling it across the plains to its burrow, where its young chew on it!