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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.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. This forest has a rich avifauna, characteristic of the central Kenyan highlands but with a composition different to that of the nearby Aberdare mountains (IBA KE001). The forest forms the eastern limit in Kenya for Cercococcyx montanus, Ceratogymna bucinator, Zoothera gurneyi and Cinnyricinclus femoralis, and the western limit for Glaucidium tephronotum; none of these species is known to be present in the Aberdare mountains. The little-known Cinnyricinclus femoralis is most consistently found in the main block (Kieni), where it has been recorded almost year-round; it is also regularly recorded in the southern remnant forest patch, Gatamaiyu. Regionally threatened species known from the site include Bostrychia olivacea (regularly recorded and probably resident); Hieraaetus ayresii (a scarce resident); Stephanoaetus coronatus (resident in small numbers) and Glaucidium tephronotum (seemingly resident).

Non-bird 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.

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 
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 

IBA Monitoring

2010 high unfavourable high
  Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
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%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather drought likely in long term (beyond 4 years) whole area/population (>90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Geological events avalanches/landslides likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance war, civil unrest and military exercises likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive and other problematic species and genes introduced genetic material likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species likely in short term (within 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Invasive and other problematic species and genes problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications dams & water management/use - small dams likely in short term (within 4 years) 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%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Pollution agricultural & forestry effluents - type unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution domestic & urban waste water - type unknown/unrecorded happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Pollution garbage & solid waste likely in short term (within 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development commercial and industrial development likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in long term (beyond 4 years) some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) very rapid to severe deterioration low

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

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 -

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kikuyu Escarpment forest. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 19/12/2014

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