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Other Wildlife in the Diani Area

Other Wildlife in the Diani Area and at the Colobus Cottage
spotted ground thrushPrimates aren't the only thing to see on the south coast of Kenya. The region offers a great array of mammals and birds, reptiles, marine life and flora for exploration. Here are some of the different things you can see in the forest in Diani.
Zanj ElephantZanj Elephant Shrew - This unique shrew (Rhynchocyon petersi) eats invertebrates in leaf litter and has been declared rare by the IUCN. Not much is known about this shrew, although they are living in the forests in Diani!

suniSuni - Suni are forest antelope 40cm tall and male's horns can reach 13cm. Their facial glands are enormous, especially in the male and their fur is sleek, shiny, freckled dark brown with a lighter underside. They are browsers with a varied diet of leaves, shoots and herbs and gather under feeding colobus monkeys to pick up dropped leaves and shoots of brittlewood. The rely on smell for many social activities and visible and invisible scented pathways are followed with individual and communal dung middens tending to be on the peripheries of a territory. They feed in short bursts interspersed with rests and are most active after rainstorms and between dusk and 10 pm and after 4pm. They rest during the heat of the day. Mainly pairs on territories of approximately 3 ha.

mongooseMongooses - They are primarily terrestrial and predators of invertebrates, small vertebrates and sometimes fruit. Most species are water dependant inhabitants of forests, woodlands, savannahs and marshes; however, some can go long periods without water. They depend on scent to communicate and mark territories. Anal secretions constitute long-lasting, individual signatures while cheek-gland secretions produce a short term status related signal that can trigger immediate aggression. Their ability to roll and crash-crack eggs and to kill dangerous snakes is well known. Both are instances of the manipulative skills, speed and versatility of many mongooses in their hunting techniques. Mongooses likely to be seen in Diani are the Egyptian mongoose, Slender mongoose, White-tailed mongoose and Bushy tailed mongoose.

genetGenets and Civets - Genets and civets are to carnivores what lemurs are to the higher primates. Civets in particular are modern approximations of the carnivores common ancestral stock. These carnivores are generally solitary foragers, spanning most major habitats. Scent is their most fundamental mode of communication and all species use glandular secretions to regulate contacts and behaviour. The are almost entirely terrestrial, solitary foragers and not endangered.

Genets have slender, long cat-like bodies and have a banded tail. They have soft spotted or blotched fur (occasional black morphs are also known) and are normally silent they spit, hiss, growl, purr and meow like cats. They are omnivorous (eating vertebrates, invertebrates and plant matter) and rely on speed and agility and cryptic colouring to catch food as well as evade large predators. They are solitary except for brief courtship and six months while young are with their mother. In Diani we have the Common genet - with a crest of long fur along the spine, ringed tail, dark spots are small, numerous and linear on a sandy background and eating rodents as their main staple. Also seen often is the Blotched genet - with a blotchy coat, eating rodents, invertebrates and fruits.

civetAfrican civet (Civettictis civetta) is the only civet to be found in this area. They are largely terrestrial and normally silent, although they growl very deeply if harassed. They are omnivores adapted to eating poisonous fruits, such as Strychnos, distasteful insects, millipedes and dangerous snakes. They are able to feed irregularly and even fast for two weeks at a time. They have up to four young born 60-72 days gestation born in a burrow, crevice, dense vegetation. Civet secretions are so copious and durable that they once provided the perfume trade with a valuable fixative for floral scents.

insect batBats - There are two types of bats in Diani - insect eaters and fruit eaters. In spite of the similarities between fruit and insectivorous bats which suggests a very ancient common ancestry, the fruit bats actual have more affinities with primates. Possibly the evolution from lemur-like gliders in rainforest. Insectivores use echo-location to pinpoint obstacles and prey. Species whose niche is under canopy utilise higher frequencies and therefore have greater precision. Those that are in open areas use lower frequencies as they require lower precision. Insect eating bats have a clawless wing, complex ears and teeth, small eyes and complex ears with irregular margins.

fruit batFrugivores (fruit-eating) bats do not use echolocation and are mediocre navigators and usually fly above the forest canopy. They have large eyes, second claw on wing, funnel-shaped ears, large tongues, blunt short teeth and a deeply ridged palate which working together crush, squeeze the fruit so that only juice and pulp are swallowed. Fibres and rind are usually spat out. They rely on a year-long supply of fruits and flowers. They can also be important as pollinators and are v. Important as seed dispersers.

African Hedgehogs - The evolution of spiny armour has been a major factor in their survival as a group. They are successful and widespread modern survivors of a very ancient group. The spines are embedded into a muscle that is anchored to the forehead which contracts and becomes a bag into which the body, head and legs are withdrawn. The spines are effective protection through some owls and carnivores have no problem killings and eating them. They are nocturnal insect-eaters mainly active in the evenings and at night, trot with fast leg movements but hunch or roll into a prickly ball at any disturbance and find prey by scent and sound.

bush pigBush pigs - Bush pigs range up to 4000 m on Mt. Kilimanjaro and live in forest and woodland habitats . They are omnivorous - eating roots, tubers, bulbs, fruits, larvae, beetles, snails, amphibians and reptiles - scavenging and a group have even been seen to drive a leopard off its kill. Their home ranges are about 10km 2, nightly foraging of up to 6 km2 and are a major pest for farmers and are hunted for control and meat. Without natural predators they can become very abundant as they have short gestation periods (120 days), large litters, fast maturation rates.

butter flyButterflies -

Coastal giant millipede - This is the largest of these giant millipedes is known as Archispirostreptus gigas which can be over 10cm. It can cause serious localized seasonal damage to crops and small forestry seedlings. In dry conditions, they feed on living plants and burrow down in crevices and in wet conditions, their populations appear to increase explosively and mainly feed on leaf litter and other dead materials. The species Epibolus pulchripes is more common on the coast. It seldom damages plants but is very useful in humus formation. Predators to the giant millipedes include civets, mongoose, and some birds.

owlOwls - Eyes can see in dim light, owls have the best hearing of all birds. Eat mice, rats, large insects. Owl can see in daylight and even on a dark night but cannot see in total darkness. Owl eyes face forward so that they can focus on their fast-moving prey and judge distances. They have large ear openings, protected by feathers to hear the noise of prey.

Silvery-Cheeked Hornbill - This striking, large bird is at home in Diani and forests, parks and gardens along the Kenyan South Coast and even up into Nairobi. It grows to have a wingspan of over 75 cm as a male and 65 cm as a female.

Strangling figs (Ficus lingua) - Strangling figs are plants known as epiphytes (plants that start by growing on other plants). Some Strangling fig are hemiepiphyte (these are trees that start by growing on the ground and end up as parasites on host/mother plants). Fig trees are not parasitic, however they get physical support from the host plant, and it has been reported that they do not get any nutrients out of their host plants. Researchers have postulated that this epiphytic habit is an adaptation to avoid fire and being foraged on by herbivores. The strangling fig eventually kills its host by competition and killing the host.

baobabBaobab (Adansonia Digitata) - Truly a tree that represents Africa, this striking deciduous tree of immense girth, up to 25 meters in height. It is bare of leaves up to 9 months of the year, earning a nick-name, the upside down tree. Despite its soft pithy wood, it is one of the longest lived trees in the world. Carbon dating has shown trees 5m wide to be 1000 years old. Portuguese cannon balls from nearly four centuries ago have been found embedded in living trees that line the approach to Mombasa harbour.

The bark is grey, smooth and fibrous, often pock-marked and heavily folded. Leaves are compound, ‘digitate’, dark green and shiny. Flowers are solitary, 5 waxy petals surrounding a ball of fine stamens, upside down on hanging stalks, unpleasant scented. Fruits are large hard-shelled capsules up to 24 cm long, and remaining on the tree after ripening. Their leaves are a favourite of the colobus, and the fruit of the other monkeys - though only the baboon can crack them open.

Prickly Ash (Zanthozylum Challybeum) - An Indigenous shrub or tree 1.5 to 10 meters or more, evergreen. Found often in rocky sites (the Diani forests are full of coral rock). Its trunk is furrowed with corky knobs or ridges crowned with spines. Leaves compound with 5 to 11 leaflets. Its flowers are yellow-green, usually borne below the leaves. The fruit is tinny, 5 – 8 mm long, obliquely ellipsoid with a shinny black seed. The leaves are eaten by colobus and used locally to treat chest infections and, because of their fresh citrus smell and taste, to spice tea.

neemNeem Tree (Azadracta indica) - Common in the coast, though it is not indigenous to Africa. It is a hardy tree which grows to 118 meters. It has a rough pale brown-grey bark, small fresh glossy-green compound leaves, small white or cream fragrant flowers and small oval greenish-yellow berries. It is widely planted at the coast for fuel, timber, shade, agroforestry in exhausted soils, and as traditional medicine for treating 40 diseases, including malaria. Also used for soap making. Colobus like to eat its leaves while its berries are a favourite for sykes and vervet monkeys.

Flamboyant (Delonix regia) - Another exotic plant found in Diani and a favourite of the colobus monkeys. It is one of the most beautiful trees, particularly when it flowers – brilliant scarlet-red, each flower up to 10cm across with wavy petals, of which the uppermost is creamy white and splashed with scarlet. It has a flat or umbrella shaped crown, its bark is grey and smooth, leaves twice compound light green and feathery, with leaflets mostly less than 1 cm long. They fruits are long brown heavy pods honeycombed into horizontal seed chambers. These seed pods are also favoured by baboons and sykes monkeys. Vervets also eat them.