|Location||Kenya, Coast Province|
|Central coordinates||39o 16.00' East 4o 28.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3|
|Altitude||100 - 300m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 3 for key species. Mrima holds non-breeding populations of the globally threatened Zoothera guttata, and supports a rich avifauna characteristic of the East African coastal forests. The globally threatened Tauraco fischeri (also a restricted-range species) and Anthreptes reichenowi are both fairly common here. Forty-seven forest bird species are recorded. Pogonocichla stellata and Zoothera gurneyi are known from Mrima but no other Kenyan coastal forests. Both are probably altitudinal migrants. Regionally threatened species include Erythrocercus holochlorus.
Site description This IBA consists of wet coastal forest on a small hill rising from the coastal plain some 60 km south-west of Mombasa, just west of the main Mombasa–Lungalunga road. The hill itself is a part of the alkaline igneous complex centred on Dzombo Hill (IBA KE010) and is known to have significant deposits of ores containing manganese and niobium. Mrima has been prospected over several times by geologists and there are many deep test holes, although no large-scale mining has yet taken place. Rainfall is at least 1,100 mm/year, and probably greater, since precipitation is produced as cloud rises over the slopes during the south-east monsoon. The forest is undifferentiated, with exceptional plant species diversity. Large trees include Combretum schumannii, Milicia excelsa, Terminalia sambesiaca, Nesogordonia holtzii, Sterculia appendiculata, Drypetes usambarica var. mrimae, Cordyla africana, Albizia glaberrima var. glabrescens, Newtonia paucijuga, Erythrina sacleuxii, Antiaris toxicaria, Lovoa swynnertonii, Zanha golungensis, Diospyros mespiliformis, Inhambanella henriquesii, Manilkara discolor, Mimusops aedificatoria and Synsepalum brevipes. Mrima Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1961, and the site was made a strict nature reserve under the Forests Act in the early 1980s. Mrima Hill is also a Kaya, recognized by the site’s gazettement as Mrima Hill Sacred Grove National Monument in 1992. The Kayas are relict patches of forest that once sheltered the fortified villages of the Mijikenda people (in Mrima’s case, the Digo) on the Kenyan coast. They have spiritual and ceremonial significance and are customarily protected by a Council of Elders.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Fischer's Turaco Tauraco fischeri||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A3||Near Threatened|
|African Green-tinkerbird Pogoniulus simplex||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Mombasa Woodpecker Campethera mombassica||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrike Prionops scopifrons||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Green-headed Oriole Oriolus chlorocephalus||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Yellow Flycatcher Erythrocercus holochlorus||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Fischer's Greenbul Phyllastrephus fischeri||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Tiny Greenbul Phyllastrephus debilis||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Black-bellied Glossy-starling Lamprotornis corruscus||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Endangered|
|Plain-backed Sunbird Anthreptes reichenowi||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A3||Near Threatened|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Mrima||Forest Reserve||390||protected area contains site||250|
|Mrima Hill Sacred Grove National Monument||Other Area||0||protected area contained by site||0|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Lowland forest - undifferentiated||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity Mrima’s vegetation is exceptionally diverse. A 1989 expedition recorded over 270 taxa, including 25 that are globally or nationally rare. Among others, the rare trees Uvariodendron gorgonis and Gigasiphon macrosiphon are known from this site, though the latter was not relocated in 1989. The rare butterfly Eresinopsides bichroma also occurs. Mammals include the threatened Rhynchocyon petersi (EN), Galagoides zanzibaricus (LR/nt) and Colobus angolensis palliatus. Bats occur in the mineshafts, including the rare and localised Myonycteris relicta (VU).
Management considerations Despite its status as a strict nature reserve, and now a National Monument, Mrima has suffered badly from selective logging and pole cutting. Numerous Combretum schumannii and Milicia excelsa were being illegally felled in 1989 and 1992. The forest is severely degraded in many places, with an open canopy and dense thicket-like undergrowth. The population density around the hill is high, and there has been some encroachment on the lower slopes to the west. Prospective mining, which has carried on irregularly since 1919, has also affected the forest’s structure. Mrima is now littered with deep prospecting holes, each c.50 cm in diameter. Though some of these provide roost sites for bats, they act as effective pitfall traps for other vertebrates (including biologists!). The main threat to the forest remains the possibility of intensive mining for manganese or niobium. Given Mrima’s biological importance and its significance as a Kaya (or ‘sacred forest’) to the Digo community, any mining proposal should be very carefully evaluated. Certainly no opencast mining should be countenanced, as this would be extremely destructive to the forest. In the meantime, the Forest Department should recognize fully the conservation importance of this site, and work with the National Museums’ Coast Forest Conservation Unit and the Kaya Elders to maintain its integrity.
References Britton et al. (1980), Larson (1991), Mlingwa et al. (2000), Robertson and Luke (1993), Waiyaki and Bennun (2000).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mrima Hill Forest. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013
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