5 Top Wildlife to Spot in Samburu National Reserve
Although it is one of the smallest national parks in Kenya, Samburu National Reserve is one of Africa’s most outstanding wildlife habitats. The reserve is in a riverine forest and semi-arid ecosystem, creating a scenic landscape. Located in the southeastern corner of Samburu county, north-central Kenya, Samburu National Reserve is a vast expanse of remote, pristine wilderness inhabited by a wildlife haven.
Samburu county’s semi-arid terrain features the Ewaso Nyiro River, which is one of northern Kenya’s biggest rivers. The river flows through palm groves and thick riverine forest creating a beautiful scenic view in reserve. Ewaso Nyiro river quenches the thirst for the abundant wildlife in Samburu national reserve; Buffalo springs National reserve, and Shaba national reserve. In addition to the wildlife, Ewaso Nyiro is also the primary water source for the Samburu people, which lures them to the reserve.
While Samburu national reserve is not necessarily at the top of the list for many first-time safari-goers, it offers an astonishing abundance of wildlife, including the most iconic creatures. Due to its pristine wilderness, the reserve hosts a wide variety of animals and bird life, attracting thousands of tourists.
Samburu reserve boasts excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, including elephants, three big cats (lion, leopard, and cheetah), African painted wolves, striped hyena, rhino, buffalo, and many others. However, the park stands out for having the so-called “Samburu special 5”. The Samburu special five species cannot be found in Kenya’s southern parks; they include the Reticulated Giraffe, the Grevy’s Zebra, the Somali Ostrich, the Beisa Oryx, and finally, the Gerenuk.
Are you a seasoned safari-goer looking for more iconic animals other than the big cats and the elephants? Samburu National Reserve is the place for you.
The Samburu Special 5
Also known as the Somali Giraffe, the Reticulated Giraffe is commonly found in Northern Kenya. The reticulated giraffe’s markings are immediately distinguishable from those of the Masai giraffe. They are shorter and have light brown spots shaped like polygons with straight, smooth sides. Their features make it easy for them to blend in with the terrain.
The Endangered Grevy’s Zebra is the largest of the three zebra species, with long legs, enormous ears, and narrow stripes. They also have white bellies. While the zebras seen in the Masai Mara and other national parks are related to horses, the Grevy’s zebra looks more like a wild donkey. The majority of the remaining Grevy’s Zebra are found in northern Kenya.
The Somali ostrich was only recently classified as a distinct species rather than a subspecies of the common ostrich found across most of Africa. This large flightless bird can be distinguished from other ostrich species by its blue-ish neck and legs, which become a brighter blue color on males during mating season.
The East African Oryx (Oryx Beisa) is a species of antelope from East Africa. These majestic animals, frequently seen hanging out with zebras, have gorgeous black, white, and grey markings on their face and body that the sun reflects to enhance their attractiveness, as well as long straight horns. Beisa Oryx are particularly well adapted to arid conditions.
Gerenuk means’ giraffe necked’ in Somali. And similar to its meaning, this remarkable antelope has an extraordinarily long neck and the capacity to stand on its hind legs, allowing it to reach the highest leaves. Nothing can prepare a person for the first sight of a gerenuk. They are both graceful and funny.
Samburu National Reserve is one of the best places in Kenya to enjoy an authentic Kenyan safari. The reserve receives far fewer visitors than other national reserves and parks, as it is lesser-known. Therefore, you will enjoy a relaxed and exclusive experience as there is a significant difference in the number of safari vehicles during game drives compared to other parks.