Then there’s the honey badger. Don’t be fooled by the rather cute name. As well as being blessed with a face only its mother could love, these are the most powerful and fearless carnivores for their size in Africa. Even lions give them a wide berth. You should too: not only can they cause a lot of damage to your person, but the thought of having to tell your friends that, of all the bloodthirsty creatures that roam the African plains, you got savaged by a badger, is too shaming to contemplate.
Of a similar size, the aardvark has enormous claws but unlike the honey badger this nocturnal, long-snouted anteater is entirely benign. So fear not: as the old adage goes, aardvark never killed anyone. Both aardvarks and honey badgers are rarely, if ever, seen on the mountain. Nor are porcupines, Africa’s largest rodents. Though also present in this zone, they are both shy and nocturnal and your best chances of seeing one is as roadkill on the way to Dar es Salaam.
Further down, near or just above the cultivated zone, bushbabies are more easily heard than seen as they come out at night and jump on the roofs of the huts. Here, too, is the small-spotted genet with its distinctive black-and-white tail, and the noisy, chipmunk-like tree hyrax.
One creature you definitely won’t see at any altitude is the rhinoceros. Although a black rhinoceros was seen a few years ago on the north side of the mountain, it is now believed that over-hunting has finally taken its toll of this most majestic of creatures; Count Teleki is said to have shot 89 of them during his time in East Africa, including four in one day, and there are none on – or anywhere – near Kilimanjaro today.
Heath, moorland and above
Just as plant-life struggles to survive much above 2800m, so animals too find it difficult to live on the barren upper slopes. Yet though we may see little, there are a few creatures living on Kilimanjaro’s higher reaches.