Every year, over a thousand hikers make the grueling trek up to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, for a chance to gaze over its stunning vistas -- but at least one such traveller has apparently decided to stay. On a recent excursion to the mountain's summit, tourists spotted something they could hardly believe: a healthy-looking, auburn-colored dog warming itself in the sun, seeming to be at home there at an altitude of 19,341 ft. Experts are, needless to say, quite baffled at the discovery.According to a report from the Tanzania's The Citizen, a group of hikers spotted the solitary dog upon ascending to Kilimanjaro's peak, where temperatures frequently dip well below freezing and there are no obvious sources of food. A tourist snapped a photo of the animal, huddled among rocks, and later showed it to mountain guide Abel Edward who shared in the amazement.
As it turns out, the dog's stay on Mount Kilimanjaro has been an extended one. Edward tells The Citizen that the animal appears to be the same canine as one he had seen frequently at base camp lower on the mountain a decade earlier. The fact that it appeared to be alive and well after all these years only added to the puzzlement.
"When the tourists showed us the picture of the dog we could not believe our eyes. How it survived in such freezing conditions and what it ate during that time remained a mystery to us," Edward said.
Animal experts are so far baffled by the discovery of a dog atop Mount Kilimanjaro, but they say it wouldn't necessarily be unfit to survive there long-term. What's perhaps more unusual is the animal's choice of locales in such a remote and hard-to-reach region. Some have suggested the dog may be rabid, though the witnesses didn't report any signs of aggression from it.
There's something undeniably intriguing about animals that defy our expectations of 'normal' behavior -- and particularly so in dogs, with whom we share such a traditional bond of affection. Was this dog abandoned on the mountain? Is it holding vigil for its owner, maybe one of those hikers who perish there each year? Or are we just too incapable of imagining another species might be desirous of solitude as well?
Chances are that the world will never know why the dog has chosen to live alone atop Mount Kilimanjaro, but we can only hope that perhaps it does.