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Location Kenya, Central Province,Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 36o 40.50' East  0o 54.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 37,000 ha
Altitude 1,800 - 2,700m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description The Kikuyu Escarpment forest lies 30 km north-north-west of Nairobi, and covers the eastern slopes of the escarpment from about 2,700 m in the north-west (bordering grassland at the edge of the Kinangop Plateau, IBA KE004) to around 2,050 m in the east, where it borders agricultural land. The main block of forest (sometimes called Kieni) lies either side of the Kamae–Kieni–Thika road, and is bounded to the north by the Chania river; northwards it is continuous with the forest of the southern Aberdare mountains (KE001). On the south-west, a narrow strip extends along the wall of the Rift Valley, beyond Kijabe, down to c.1,800 m. To the south, the forest has been much fragmented, and there are only scattered remnants towards its limits (including the so-called Gatamaiyu forest, near Uplands). The topography is rugged, with many steep-sided valleys containing fast-flowing permanent streams. Mixed bamboo and forest in the higher north-west sector give way below 2,400 m to broadleaved forest, with species of Ocotea, Podocarpus, Macaranga, Neoboutonia and Strombosia prominent among the trees; tree-ferns, Cyathea manniana, are also conspicuous. The escarpment strip consists of remnant Juniperus forest. The forest was logged over extensively in the 1950s and 1960s, but many parts in the main block have regenerated well. As well as several roads, a major water pipeline passes through the forest from Sasumua Dam, which supplies Nairobi with water. Judging from aerial photography, slightly more than half of the gazetted area is now closed-canopy forest, most of it in a single block in the east-central part of the reserve. There are extensive areas of plantation and cleared land on the western perimeter of this main block, and the south-western strip and southern sections are a patchy mosaic of degraded forest remnants, scrub, cultivation and plantation.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Jackson's Francolin Pternistis jacksoni resident  1999  present  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Buteo oreophilus resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
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 
Bronze Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-winged Sunbird Nectarinia reichenowi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Crimson-wing Cryptospiza salvadorii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
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 
Moustached Green Tinkerbird Pogoniulus leucomystax resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kikuyu Escarpment Forest Reserve 37,619 is identical to site 37,600  

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

Name Year formed
Kijabe Environmental Volunteers Organisation 1994

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - mixed  -
Artificial - terrestrial Forestry & agro-industrial plantations  -
Savanna Bamboo - Montane  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
forestry -

Other biodiversity The mammal Loxodonta africana (EN) is present in good numbers at times; this population appears to move back and forth between the Kikuyu Escarpment forest and the Aberdare mountains (IBA KE001). Three near-endemic butterflies occur, namely Charaxes nandina, Neptis kikuyuensis and N. katama. Little is known about the other biodiversity values of this site.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

References Adel and Gachanja (1997), Beentje 1990, Blackett (1994e), Gardner (1996), Coe (1994), Taylor and Taylor (1988).

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: Kikuyu Escarpment forest. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/07/2014

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