email a friend
printable version
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.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Over 200 species have been recorded, including Aviceda cuculoides, Buteo oreophilus, Francolinus jacksoni, F. psilolaemus and Tauraco hartlaubi. Nectarinia johnstoni is found on the high peaks, foraging largely on lobelias, while other montane sunbirds (including Nectarinia tacazze, N. reichenowi, N. famosa and N. mediocris) are common at slightly lower altitudes. Macronyx sharpei is an uncommon resident of the southern slope grasslands, although like Cinnyricinclus femoralis and Euplectes jacksoni, its current status is uncertain. The restricted-range Cisticola aberdare occurs locally in the tussock moorland, with densities of around 3.2 birds/ha in suitable habitat; more than 20,000 pairs are estimated to occur. Regionally threatened species known from this site include Bostrychia olivacea (few records), Hieraaetus ayresii (scarce), Stephanoaetus coronatus (low density), Sarothrura affinis (rarely recorded), Porzana pusilla (uncommon), Tyto capensis (no recent records), Bubo capensis (local), and Euplectes progne (status uncertain).

Non-bird 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).

Populations of IBA trigger species

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

IBA Monitoring

2009 very high unfavourable low
Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agricultural expansion and intensification wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Geological events avalanches/landslides past (and unlikely to return) and no longer limiting small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - persecution/control happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Pollution garbage & solid waste likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable
Forest Montane forest - mixed  0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 

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 -

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

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Aberdare Mountains. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/12/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife