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Location Kenya, Coast Province
Central coordinates 39o 36.00' East  4o 11.00' South
IBA criteria A1
Area 20 ha
Altitude 15 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description The Kayas are small, relict patches of forest that once sheltered the fortified villages of the Mijikenda people on the Kenyan coast. They have spiritual and ceremonial significance and are customarily protected by a Council of Elders. Kaya Waa (sacred to the Digo people) is Cynometra–Drypetes forest on coral rag that covers a level cliff-top just above the ocean, near Waa village. The forest is dense and low, practically a thicket in many places, and difficult to walk through. Under the coral cliffs there is reportedly a large cave, which is of religious significance to the local people. The site was gazetted as a National Monument under the care of the National Museums of Kenya in 1992.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The habitat structure is very suitable for the threatened Zoothera guttata, which has been recorded here and is likely to occur at relatively high density. The remaining avifauna is impoverished, but Tauraco fischeri (Near Threatened and restricted-range) and Pogoniulus simplex (East African Coast biome) have been recorded.

Non-bird biodiversity: The threatened small mammal Rhynchocyon petersi (EN) probably occurs. There is a healthy population of the coastal forest tree Cynometra greenwayi, a rare Kenyan endemic known only from here and the Watamu area.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Fischer's Turaco Tauraco fischeri resident  1999  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata winter  1999  present  A1  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high unfavourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Climate change and severe weather drought happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Human intrusions and disturbance work and other activities happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species habitat effects - gathering plants happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high

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 management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kaya Waa Other Area 20 is identical to site 20  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Lowland forest - dry deciduous  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
tourism/recreation -
other -

References Bennun (1987), Mlingwa et al. (2000), Robertson and Luke (1993), Waiyaki (1994, 1995), Waiyaki and Bennun (2000).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kaya Waa. Downloaded from on 28/11/2014

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