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Location Kenya, Eastern Province
Central coordinates 37o 29.00' East  0o 54.00' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 1,050 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description This is by far the largest reservoir of the five impoundments along the upper Tana river, and abuts on the eastern side with Mwea National Reserve (IBA KE032). Masinga dam, which is managed by the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority, was completed in 1981. The valley that it drowned has a highly convoluted shoreline and contains a number of sizeable islands. The maximum depth is c.50 m, near the dam wall. Because of periodic draw-down and flooding, the shoreline is bare ground with a mosaic of deposited silt, pebbles and mud. Further from the water, a narrow strip of grass gives way to open Acacia–Commiphora bushland. The area is semi-arid with an annual rainfall of between 250 and 500 mm.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. Masinga is notable mainly for its waterbirds, with breeding colonies of cormorants and Anhinga rufa. The terrestrial avifauna is not particularly diverse, but the threatened and restricted-range Turdoides hindei has been recorded in Acacia thickets 100–200 m from the eastern shores of the reservoir (and see Mwea National Reserve, IBA KE032). Regionally threatened species include Anhinga rufa (Masinga is one of the few known Kenyan nesting sites; 94 birds were counted in February 1999, with 228 altogether on the five Upper Tana dams); Casmerodius albus (260 in March 1995); and Polemaetus bellicosus (status unknown).

Non-bird biodiversity: The dam supports substantial populations of Hippopotamus amphibius and Crocodylus niloticus. There is no information on other fauna or flora.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus winter  1995  2,120 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - seabirds winter  20,000 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

2007 not assessed not assessed not assessed


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Artificial wetlands  100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
water management -

References Nasirwa (1997), Nasirwa et al. (1995a,b), Oyugi and Owino (1998a,b, 1999).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Masinga reservoir. Downloaded from on 22/10/2016

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