Unique Caverns Turned Into Maternity Units

Mt Elgon National Park is on the Kenya-Uganda border and it covers 16,916 hectares. The park is under the management of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Kenya Forest Service. In this park, there are five caves that elephants have turned into maternity wards. The caves are Kibalo, Kitum, Makingeny, Chepnyalil, and Ngwarisha.

Elephants consider the caves a safe place to bring forth new ones because they are secure, have salt for them to lick, and there is plenty of food in their neighborhood. The caves are protected by rangers. According to the Bungoma County Tourism executive, “The elephants are known to travel from the neighboring Trans Nzoia County to Uganda to these caves, where they give birth and bring up their young ones”.

Just like any other maternity facility, the caves have special rooms reserved for calves and a zone for salt licks for the rest of the herds. Inside are massive amounts of dried elephant dung which have accumulated over time. The dung serves as beds for elephants, especially during cold nights and in the rainy season. The caves are surrounded by plenty of trees and grass, and once the calves start walking, they accompany the adults into the forest to forage.

Mt Elgon is one of Kenya’s five water towers and the caves are next to small streams that provide the elephants with water. Other animals within Mt Elgon National Park including waterbucks, bushbucks, and buffalos, which also visit the salt licks in search of minerals such as phosphorus, sodium, calcium, iron and zinc, which are important for bone and muscle growth.

To access the caves, one must be cleared by KWS at Chorlim Gate in Trans Nzoia or Kaberwa in Bungoma County. Armed KWS game rangers must accompany visitors to ensure their security. Anyone wishing to visit the park should carry protective (waterproof) clothing as it rains most afternoons and temperatures are low.

The moorland has a breathtaking view which is ideal for walking, trekking, and hiking expeditions. Other attractions include more than 240 bird species, including the African crowned eagle, Ross’ turaco, and the red-fronted parrot. You can also do Mount climbing at any time of the year, but experts caution that one should avoid the park from April to May and August to September, the wettest months.

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