On an early morning game drive, all alone in Shompole Wildlife Conservancy, while looking for the mane-less lions with our guide & tracker we came across a small herd of zebra that looked very attentive & alert.
We looked around hoping that the lions would be close by as we had heard them roaring just before dawn in the area. Looking through the binoculars I noticed a young zebra with interesting hooves. It was almost like it had some shoes on from a distance.
The animals in the conservancy are very shy & skittish so they cannot be approached very closely & off road driving is not encouraged. I believe animals should always have the right to their space & freedom plus I would never encourage anyone to break or bend park/ reserve/ conservancy rules; not even for a photo opportunity!
So we watched this zebra that the guides had never seen before either & it baffled them as much as it did me! She was very calm, comfortable & very healthy too. I managed to take a few photos just to remember her & this amazing part of Kenya.
On doing some research, I learnt that this is a common occurrence in horses as well. The hoof is a modified middle toe. The hoof’s hardness is derived from the fibrous protein call Keratin, the same substance that makes up the human fingernail.
Research states that this condition of elongated hooves occur in very dry conditions thus retarding the hoof growth, faster growth has however been noted in soggy & wet conditions. This condition is called “Elf Shoes” in horses.
I did mention this to the manager at the lodge to see if she could assist this individual but her words were simple, “Let nature takes its course”.
For those wondering about the mane-less lions of Shompole watch this space!