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Location Kenya, Eastern Province,Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 36o 4.00' East  3o 27.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 756,000 ha
Altitude 355 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description A very large, isolated, chloro-carbonate alkaline lake, the northernmost and by far the largest of the chain of Rift Valley lakes in Kenya. The Omo river delta at the extreme northern end of the lake lies within Ethiopia (IBA ET069). Turkana’s water is brackish, but drinkable, and the lake holds freshwater fish. The c.600 km of lake shore vary greatly in substrate, from rock (most of the southern sector, the central eastern shore, and North, Central and South Islands) to pebble, sand (most of the north-western shore, and patches elsewhere) and mud (at Loiyengalani, El Molo and Allia Bays, the Omo delta and the inlets of the Turkwel and Kerio rivers). Beds of the submerged plant Potamogeton pectinatus occur in the most sheltered muddy bays. The country surrounding the lake is semi-desert with sparse vegetation: annual rainfall averages less than 250 mm (substantially less in some places), and it may not rain for several years at a stretch. South and Central Islands are National Parks and, in the north-east, c.13% of the shoreline is protected within Sibiloi National Park.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Vulturine Guineafowl Acryllium vulturinum resident  1999    Least Concern 
Yellow-necked Spurfowl Francolinus leucoscepus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus winter  1992  2,580 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Pink-backed Pelican Pelecanus rufescens winter  1992  1,060 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Fox Kestrel Falco alopex resident  1999    Least Concern 
Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Heuglin's Bustard Neotis heuglinii resident  1999    Least Concern 
Spur-winged Lapwing Vanellus spinosus winter  1992  6,930 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula winter  1992  13,600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius winter  1992  8,600 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Caspian Plover Charadrius asiaticus winter  1992  500 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Little Stint Calidris minuta winter  1992  113,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
White-bellied Go-away-bird Corythaixoides leucogaster resident  1999    Least Concern 
Star-spotted Nightjar Caprimulgus stellatus resident  1999    Least Concern 
White-headed Mousebird Colius leucocephalus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Somali Bee-eater Merops revoilii resident  1999    Least Concern 
Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor resident  1999    Least Concern 
Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus flavirostris resident  1999    Least Concern 
Jackson's Hornbill Tockus jacksoni resident  1999    Least Concern 
D'Arnaud's Barbet Trachyphonus darnaudii resident  1999    Least Concern 
Black-throated Barbet Tricholaema melanocephala resident  1999    Least Concern 
Rosy-patched Bush-shrike Rhodophoneus cruentus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Taita Fiscal Lanius dorsalis resident  1999    Least Concern 
Somali Fiscal Lanius somalicus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Pink-breasted Lark Mirafra poecilosterna resident  1999    Least Concern 
Chestnut-headed Sparrow-lark Eremopterix signatus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Pale Prinia Prinia somalica resident  1999    Least Concern 
Grey Wren-warbler Camaroptera simplex resident  1999    Least Concern 
Yellow-vented Eremomela Eremomela flavicrissalis resident  1999    Least Concern 
Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa resident  1999    Least Concern 
Bristle-crowned Starling Onychognathus salvadorii resident  1999    Least Concern 
Magpie Starling Speculipastor bicolor resident  1999    Least Concern 
Brown-tailed Chat Cercomela scotocerca resident  1999    Least Concern 
African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Hunter's Sunbird Nectarinia hunteri resident  1999    Least Concern 
Shining Sunbird Nectarinia habessinica resident  1999    Least Concern 
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni resident  1999    Least Concern 
Somali Sparrow Passer castanopterus resident  1999    Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  1999    Least Concern 
Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster resident  1999    Least Concern 
Red-rumped Waxbill Estrilda charmosyna resident  1999    Least Concern 
Ethiopian Grosbeak-canary Serinus donaldsoni resident  1999    Least Concern 
Somali Golden-breasted Bunting Emberiza poliopleura resident  1999    Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  1992  unknown  A4iii   

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Central Island National Park 500 protected area contained by site 500  
Lake Turkana National Parks World Heritage Site 161,485 protected area contained by site 161,485  
Sibiloi National Park 157,085 protected area overlaps with site 10,000  
South Island National Park 3,880 protected area contained by site 3,880  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Saline lakes  100%

Land use

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

Other biodiversity Lake Turkana is rich in fish, with 47 species, seven of which are endemic. The sheltered muddy bays with beds of waterweed Potamogeton are important for fish spawning. The fish in turn support a large population (estimated at some 14,000 in 1968) of Crocodylus niloticus.

References Bennun and Fasola (1996), Davey (1982), Fasola et al. (1993a,b), Hopson (1982), Schekkerman and van Wetten (1987).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Turkana. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/04/2014

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