1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kenya
KENYA, a great volcanic mountain in British East Africa, situated just south of the equator in 37° 20′ E. It is one of the highest mountains of Africa, its highest peak reaching an altitude of 17,007 ft. (with a possible error of 30 ft. either way). The central core, which consists of several steep pyramids, is that of a very denuded old volcano, which when its crater was complete may have reached 2000 ft. above the present summit. Lavas dip in all directions from the central crystalline core, pointing to the conclusion that the main portion of the mountain represents a single volcanic mass. From the central peaks, of which the axis runs from W.N.W. to S.S.E., ridges radiate outwards, separated by broad valleys, ending upwards in vast cirques. The most important ridges centre in the peak Lenana (16,300 ft.) at the eastern end of the central group, and through it runs the chief water-parting of the mountain, in a generally north to south direction. Three main valleys, known respectively as Hinde, Gorges and Hobley valleys, run down from this to the east, and four—Mackinder, Hausberg, Teleki and Höhnel—to the west. From the central peaks fifteen glaciers, all lying west of the main divide, descend to the north and south, the two largest being the Lewis and Gregory glaciers, each about 1 m. long, which, with the smaller Kolb glacier, lie immediately west of the main divide. Most of the glaciers terminate at an altitude of 14,800–14,900 ft., but the small César glacier, drained to the Hausberg valley, reaches to 14,450. Glaciation was formerly much more extensive, old moraines being observed down to 12,000 ft. In the upper parts of the valleys a number of lakes occur, occupying hollows and rock basins in the agglomerates and ashes, fed by springs, and feeding many of the streams that drain the mountain slopes. The largest of these are Lake Höhnel, lying at an altitude of 14,000 ft., at the head of the valley of the same name, and measuring 600 by 400 yds.; and Lake Michaelson (12,700 ft.?) in the Gorges Valley. At a distance from the central core the radiating ridges become less abrupt and descend with a gentle gradient, finally passing somewhat abruptly, at a height of some 7000 ft., into the level plateau. These outer slopes are clothed with dense forest and jungle, composed chiefly of junipers and Podocarpus, and between 8000 and 9800 ft. of huge bamboos. The forest zone extends to about 10,500 ft., above which is the steeper alpine zone, in which pasturages alternate with rocks and crags. This extends to a general height of about 15,000 ft., but in damp, sheltered valleys the pasturages extend some distance higher. The only trees or shrubs in this zone are the giant Senecio (groundsel) and Lobelia, and tree-heaths, the Senecio forming groves in the upper valleys. Of the fauna of the lower slopes, tracks of elephant, leopard and buffalo have been seen, between 11,500 and 14,500 ft. That of the alpine zone includes two species of dassy (Procavia), a coney (Hyrax), and a rat (Otomys). The bird fauna is of considerable interest, the finest species of the upper zone being an eagle-owl, met with at 14,000 ft. At 11,000 ft. was found a brown chat, with a good deal of white in the tail. Both the fauna and flora of the higher levels present close affinities with those of Mount Elgon, of other mountains of East Africa and of Cameroon Mountain. The true native names of the mountain are said to be Kilinyaga, Doenyo Ebor (white mountain) and Doenyo Egeri (spotted mountain). It was first seen, from a distance, by the missionary Ludwig Krapf in 1849; approached from the west by Joseph Thomson in 1883; partially ascended by Count S. Teleki (1889), J. W. Gregory (1893) and Georg Kolb (1896); and its summit reached by H. J. Mackinder in 1899.
See J. W. Gregory, The Great Rift-Valley (London, 1896); H. J. Mackinder, “Journey to the Summit of Mount Kenya,” Geog. Jnl., May 1900. (E. He.)