Four tourists on a mission to scale Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro were treated to a rare sight Tuesday as they reached the peak of Africa’s highest mountain: a dog.

The sighting has puzzled animal scientists and locals alike with questions on how it has managed to survive freezing temperatures.

The dog was spotted at Uhuru peak within an area situated between 5,730 and 5,895 meters above sea level and temperatures of between minus 4 and 15 degrees centigrade.

One of the tourists, Antoine le Galloudec, who was accompanied by his three colleagues Kristina Meese, Irina Manoliv and Monique Indino, took a picture of the dog using his cell phone.

Galloudec said he spotted the dog as he was relieving himself.

“As I was relieving myself I saw the dog lying some one meter away from where I stood on a rock,” he said.

He added that he was puzzled and later took his phone and photographed the animal.

Abel Edward, the marketing officer of Ahsante Tours, which organized the excursion, said that a dog was spotted at Baranco camp (3,960 meters above sea level) on the mountain 10 years ago.

“When the tourists showed us the picture of the dog we could not believe it. How did it survive in such freezing cold and what was it eating,” Edward said.

Veterinarian Wilfred Marealle said it was common for a dog to live in cold weather but it was unusual for the animal to climb to the top of such mountain.

“A dog climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is not something common. The dog might be a rabid dog,” said Dr Marealle and cautioned people to stay away from it.

Story by Elaine Furst for Dog Files