The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Fostering Map click
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found and the plight of elephants in that area.
Mt. Kenya is the highest mountain in the country, and the second highest in Africa after Kilimanjaro, standing at over 17,000 ft. 95 miles N.E. of Nairobi in Central Kenya almost on the equator. The area around it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing a protected National Park that is 240 sq. miles in extent.
The mountain is an extinct Volcano that last erupted between 2.6 and 3.1 million years ago, littering the surrounding lands with volcanic rock. Its lower slopes are dry upland forest giving way to a montane type forest at about 6,600 ft, dominated by juniper and podocarpus spp. with a belt of Bamboo at 8,000 ft. Beyond the Bamboo belt is upland forest consisting of smaller trees such as Hagenia and Hypericum covered with Usnea lichen receding into afro-alpine vegetation dominated by characteristic Giant rosette spp.
The first European Explorer to sight Mt. Kenya was Johann Ludwig Krapf in 1849. The three highest peaks of Mt. Kenya have been named after Masai Chieftains - Batian (17,058 ft), Nelion l7,022 ft and Lenana (16,355 ft), and the mountain is particularly important to the Kikuyu, Meru and Embu tribes who occupy the surrounding country and believe that it is home to their God (Ngai), whose name in their language is Mwene Naga, or Owner of the Ostriches. To them the mountain resembled an ostrich with its snow-capped peaks, forested slopes and valleys and 12 small, but rapidly shrinking glaciers. The name of the mountain in Kikuyu is Kiri Nyago(today spelt as Kirinyaga) which means 'has ostriches' . The Masai people believe that their ancestors came down the mountain, called in their language 'Ol Donyo Keri' mountain of stripes of many colours.
The lower montane forest between 5,900 and 8,200 ft. is heavily exploited for timber, much of the logging illegal, while the rich volcanic soils below 5,900 ft. are intensely farmed sustaining crops such as tea, coffee, beans, maize, bananas, potatoes and vegetables on the wetter southern slopes. The northern slopes are dryer, where there is largescale farming of wheat and barley on lands still owned by White Kenyans of European decent.
A burgeoning human population, all agriculturally based, now occupies the ancient migration routes that remain to this day imprinted in the genetic memory of the Mt. Kenya population of elephants, resulting in a lot of human/wildlife conflict in the areas of cultivation.