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Location Kenya, Central Province
Central coordinates 36o 40.98' East  0o 26.16' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 190,000 ha
Altitude 1,800 - 4,000m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description The Aberdare or Nyandarua mountains are an isolated volcanic range that form the easternmost wall of the Gregory Rift Valley, to the east of the high Kinangop/Laikipia plateau. They are c.100 km long from north to south (the northern end almost reaching the equator). There are two main peaks, Ol Donyo Lesatima (3,999 m) to the north and Kinangop (3,906 m) to the south, separated by a long ‘saddle’ of land above 3,000 m. The small peak of Kipipiri (3,349 m) flanks the main range to the west, linked to it by a formerly forested valley at around 2,700 m. Deep ravines cut through the forested eastern and western flanks, and there are many clear streams and waterfalls. Mist and rain occur throughout much of the year, with precipitation varying from c.1,000 mm on the drier north-western slopes to as much as 3,000 mm in the south-east. The vegetation varies with altitude. A rich alpine and subalpine flora, including species of Senecio, Lobelia, Erica, Helichrysum and tussock grasses, gives way at c.3,000 m to bamboo Arundinaria alpina and then montane rainforest (mainly Juniperus procera-Podocarpus falcatus-Nuxia congesta forest on the western and north-western slopes, Ocotea forest on the south-east, and mixed Podocarpus latifolius forest on the east and on Kipipiri). Pockets of Hagenia forest occur in sheltered patches on the rolling moorland. The National Park lies mainly above the tree line, with some forest and scrub at lower altitudes in the so-called ‘salient’ near Nyeri. The Aberdares Forest Reserve (103,300 ha) occupies the lower slopes, in three main blocks that almost surround the park, with Kipipiri Forest Reserve (5,100 ha) tacked on to the east. The southern boundary of the Aberdares Forest Reserve adjoins the Kikuyu Escarpment forest (KE003) to the south. The Aberdares are an extremely important water catchment for the Tana river system, for the northern Ewaso Nyiro river and for Lake Naivasha, and provide much of the water supply for Nairobi and adjoining Districts.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Moorland Francolin Francolinus psilolaemus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Jackson's Francolin Francolinus jacksoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Hartlaub's Turaco Tauraco hartlaubi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Nyanza Swift Apus niansae resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Moustached Green-tinkerbird Pogoniulus leucomystax resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Tullberg's Woodpecker Campethera tullbergi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Doherty's Bush-shrike Telophorus dohertyi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Oriole Oriolus percivali resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Crested-flycatcher Elminia albonotata resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Hunter's Cisticola Cisticola hunteri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Aberdare Cisticola Cisticola aberdare resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Endangered 
Black-collared Apalis Oreolais pulchra resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-throated Apalis Apalis porphyrolaema resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Mountain Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Bracken Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Flycatcher-warbler Chloropeta similis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus umbrovirens resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Crombec Sylvietta leucophrys resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Montane White-eye Zosterops poliogastrus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Starling Cinnyricinclus sharpii resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Abbott's Starling Cinnyricinclus femoralis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2, A3  Vulnerable 
Waller's Starling Onychognathus walleri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Starling Onychognathus tenuirostris resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Zoothera piaggiae resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Not Recognised 
Orange Ground-thrush Zoothera gurneyi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Rueppell's Robin-chat Cossypha semirufa resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Moorland Chat Cercomela sordida resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher Dioptrornis fischeri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia mediocris resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia preussi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Tacazze Sunbird Nectarinia tacazze resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Bronze Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-winged Sunbird Nectarinia reichenowi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Red-tufted Sunbird Nectarinia johnstoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 
Abyssinian Crimson-wing Cryptospiza salvadorii resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Yellow-browed Citril Serinus frontalis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Serinus striolatus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Not Recognised 
Thick-billed Seedeater Serinus burtoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Oriole Finch Linurgus olivaceus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Aberdare National Park 76,619 protected area contained by site 76,600  
Aberdares Forest Reserve 103,316 protected area contained by site 103,316  

Local conservation groups The local conservation groups below are working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
CFAs 2008
Rhino Ark 1998

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

Other biodiversity Globally threatened mammals include Diceros bicornis (CR) and Loxodonta africana (EN) (some 1,500 are resident), Tragelaphus eurycerus (LR/nt) occurs in the forest but sightings are on the decline, and Felis aurata, a rare species in Kenya, is also present. Endemic small mammals include Surdisorex norae (VU) and Tachyoryctes audax (VU). The snake Vipera hindii occurs only here and on Mount Kenya (IBA KE005), and the Aberdares hold several amphibians that are endemic to the central Kenyan highlands, including Hyperolius montanus, H. cystocandicans, Rana wittei and Phrynobatrachus kinangopensis. The butterfly Neptis kikuyuensis is endemic to forests in this IBA and on the Kikuyu Escarpment (KE003), and Charaxes nandina, endemic to central Kenya, has also been recorded. Notable plants include the Aberdare endemics Lobelia deckenii sattimae and Helichrysum gloria-dei, and the Aberdare/Mount Kenya endemics Lobelia bambuseti, Senecio keniensis, Senecio johnstonii battiscombei var. battiscombei and Senecio keniodendron. The Aberdares are rich in species of Alchemilla, including A. hageniae (endemic), A. argyrophylla (also on Mount Kenya), A. cyclophylla (also on Mount Kenya) and the rare A. microbetula (also on Mount Elgon).

References Agnew (1985), Beentje (1990), Cheffings (1997), Hardy (1979), IUCN/UNEP (1987), Lindsay (1994), Watson (1980).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Aberdare Mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/04/2014

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