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Location Kenya, Coast Province,Eastern Province
Central coordinates 38o 35.00' East  2o 45.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 1,175,000 ha
Altitude 300 - 910m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description This vast savanna National Park lies in low, semi-arid country at the eastern edge of the inland plateau, north of the main Mombasa–Nairobi road and railway. Much of the park is level, open country, with scattered rocky outcrops. The Yatta Plateau, a long, flat-topped lava ridge, runs along the western boundary, and beneath it flows the Athi river; this joins the Tsavo river to become the Galana river, a permanent stream that cuts right across the park. The seasonal Tiva and Voi rivers are important features of the northern and southern sectors, respectively. Along the rivers is a narrow fringe of woodland and thicket, dominated by Acacia elatior, the Doum palm Hyphaene compressa and the shrub Suaeda monoica. The northern part of the park is predominantly more-or-less dense Acacia–Commiphora woodland. South of the Galana, this has been opened out over the years by fire and elephants to form open bushed grassland. Common shrubs here include species of Premna, Bauhinia and Sericocomopsis, and scattered trees such as Delonix elata and Melia volkensii. The Yatta Plateau has a cover of dense bushland, with stands of baobab Adansonia digitata. There are scattered seasonal pools, swamps and dams, but relatively few sources of permanent water. The vegetation is generally denser in the west, where rainfall is c.450 mm/year, than in the drier east, which may receive only c.250 mm.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. The enigmatic, Near Threatened Mirafra pulpa probably nests here, with birds recorded singing and displaying in open bushed grassland near Voi Safari Lodge in 1976–1977. The park’s huge area of natural habitat supports important populations of resident species, and is also a very significant stopover and wintering ground for Palearctic migrants. Falco naumanni is one such (regular but uncommon) visitor from December–March. There is likely to be a substantial passage of Acrocephalus griseldis from the Middle East, judging from birds ringed further south in Tsavo West National Park (IBA KE025); some birds overwinter. Regionally threatened species in Tsavo East include Anhinga rufa (occasional visitor); Casmerodius albus (regular visitor); Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis (regular); Trigonoceps occipitalis (resident in small numbers); Polemaetus bellicosus (a stronghold, although the total numbers may be small as home ranges cover a great area); Podica senegalensis; and Phoeniculus granti (uncommon).

Non-bird biodiversity: The park holds substantial populations of a diversity of large mammals. Threatened species include Loxodonta africana (EN) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU). Small herds of the ungulate Damaliscus (lunatus) hunteri were translocated in the 1960s and again in 1996, from Arawale National Reserve, and are managing to sustain their numbers. Two amphibian taxa, Afrixalus pygmaeus septentrionalis and Hyperolius sheldricki, are endemic to the Tsavo area.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Trachyphonus darnaudii resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Black-throated Barbet Tricholaema melanocephala resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-and-yellow Barbet Trachyphonus erythrocephalus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Vulturine Guineafowl Acryllium vulturinum resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-necked Francolin Pternistis leucoscepus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  present  A1  Least Concern 
Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-faced Sandgrouse Pterocles decoratus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-bellied Parrot Poicephalus rufiventris resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Go-away-bird Criniferoides leucogaster resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sombre Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Donaldson-Smith's Nightjar Caprimulgus donaldsoni resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Bee-eater Merops revoilii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus flavirostris resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rosy-patched Bush-shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Three-streaked Tchagra Tchagra jamesi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pringle's Puffback Dryoscopus pringlii resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-naped Bush-shrike Laniarius ruficeps resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Taita Fiscal Lanius dorsalis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Tit Parus thruppi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Mouse-coloured Penduline-tit Anthoscopus musculus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Friedmann's Lark Mirafra pulpa resident  1999  present  A1, A3  Data Deficient 
Red-winged Lark Mirafra hypermetra resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pink-breasted Lark Mirafra poecilosterna resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix signatus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ashy Cisticola Cisticola cinereolus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Tiny Cisticola Cisticola nanus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pale Prinia Prinia somalica resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Wren-warbler Camaroptera simplex resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis passage  present  A1  Endangered 
Yellow-vented Eremomela Eremomela flavicrissalis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Crombec Sylvietta isabellina resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Banded Warbler Sylvia boehmi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Scaly Chatterer Turdoides aylmeri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-breasted White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Starling Lamprotornis shelleyi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hildebrandt's Starling Lamprotornis hildebrandti resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-breasted Starling Cosmopsarus regius resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fischer's Starling Spreo fischeri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Magpie Starling Speculipastor bicolor resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bare-eyed Thrush Turdus tephronotus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kenya Violet-backed Sunbird Anthreptes orientalis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hunter's Sunbird Nectarinia hunteri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia nectarinioides resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-capped Social-weaver Pseudonigrita cabanisi resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Fire-fronted Bishop Euplectes diadematus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-capped Cordonbleu Uraeginthus cyanocephalus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-rumped Waxbill Estrilda charmosyna resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Silverbill Lonchura griseicapilla resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Straw-tailed Whydah Vidua fischeri resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Golden Pipit Tmetothylacus tenellus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pangani Longclaw Macronyx aurantiigula resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-bellied Canary Serinus dorsostriatus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Somali Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza poliopleura resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2009 very high near favourable high
  Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) moderate to rapid 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
Agricultural expansion and intensification marine and freshwater aquaculture - subsistence/artisinal aquaculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now whole area/population (>90%) moderate to rapid deterioration very high
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather storms and floods happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining renewable energy likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species direct mortality of trigger species - hunting and trapping happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species habitat effects - gathering plants happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution domestic and urban waste water likely in long term (beyond 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Pollution garbage and solid waste happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors flight paths likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Shrubland   0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Tsavo East National Park 1,174,700 protected area contained by site 1,174,700  

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

Name Year formed
Taita Wildlife Forum 0
Taita Ranches 0
Local conservancies 0

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Savanna Bushland & thicket - evergreen; Wooded grassland  -
Artificial - terrestrial   4%
Shrubland   7%
Grassland   86%
Forest   2%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
tourism/recreation 100%

References Bax (1963), Lack (1977, 1983a,b, 1985), Lack et al. (1980), Leuthold and Leuthold (1976), Pearson (1997), Smeenk (1974).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tsavo East National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/11/2014

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