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a rare sight

We had talked about hiking Mt. Susua on our last day in the Rift Valley. However, there was scant information in our guidebooks about this mountain. The manager of Crescent Island further discouraged us from attempting Susua when she said that she had not heard a single good thing about it. She mentioned muggings, poaching, illegal charcoal exploitation, and a host of other criminal activities that gave us pause. So instead of heading south to Susua, we spent Friday at Lake Nakuru National Park, located about an hour and a half north of our camp.

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If Lake Naivasha was all about giraffes, then Nakuru is for flamingo and rhino lovers. Though the birds are not as plentiful as they once were, the shores of Lake Nakuru are still covered in their brilliant pink hues.

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great crested crane - the national bird of Uganda

great crested crane – the national bird of Uganda

Lake Nakuru was not our favorite park – it was overflowing with tour minibuses despite offering less wildlife than Tsavo, for example. However, this was our first opportunity to see rhinos in their habitat and that alone made the trip worthwhile. There are two kinds of rhinos in Africa, and though the white ones we saw in Nakuru are more plentiful than their black counterparts, they are still on the endangered species list. These majestic animals, which reminded us of giant vacuum cleaners as they slowly moved along chomping on the savannah grass, are unfortunate targets of vicious poachers. Rhino horns, which sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, are ground into powder that is rumored to cure cancer and which is used as an aphrodisiac in Asian countries. In addition to outright killing rhinos for their horns, poachers have been known to saw the horns off, leaving the animals to slowly bleed to death. The fact that there are so few of these animals left to hunt and mutilate has even spawned a gang of horn thieves who have been stealing rhino horns out of museums to sell on the black market.

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