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Tsavo East National Park mainly protects a plateau that is topped by open thorn country with scattered rocky outcrops amongst the trees. Its one of the most interesting and remote protected areas.
The park is separated from the Tsavo West National Park by the Mombasa Highway. Together these two parks have the largest area of protected land in the country.
One of the world’s longest lava flows is found in the park, and is known as the Yavva Plateau. The lava flow runs north along the western boundary of the park. At the foot of the flow is the Athi River; this joins the Tsavo River and together they become the Galana Rvier, which flows to the coast. To the north of this river is thick acacia woodland which is excellent for walking safaris providing a wealth of things to look at and learn about.
The land itself is flat, dry and arid, with more variation at the Galana River, which is bordered with smooth grey boulders and sandy banks that allow doum palms and acacia elatior trees to grow by the river. The river drops down a series of falls at Lugard’s Falls, which have caused interesting shapes to be carved out of the rock by the process of erosion. Good views of the park can be seen from Mutanda rock, whilst there is a large concentration of game and birdlife around the wetland areas, notably the Aruba dam and Kanderi swamp.
The animals of the park are numerous, with a variation in habitat giving a good range of animals. The Galana River is home to pods of hippo, and the rare and endangered Hirola antelope, as well as elephants that have a red colouration due to their habit of bathing in the red dust on the ground. The lion here are unusual and interesting, with the males having barely any mane, in contrast to their southern counterparts, who have thick and luxurious manes. The reason behind the baldness of the Tsavo lions is not understood, but is thought to be due to the thornbush which densely covers much of the Tsavo area, causing the lions to loose their manes to prevent them being pulled out by the thorns.
The birdlife is incredible here, with over 500 species recorded in the area. These vary from the saddle-billed stork to the violet wood hoopoe, and it doesn’t take very long to rack up a large list of sightings.