|Location||Kenya, Eastern Province|
|Central coordinates||37o 40.00' East 0o 48.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2|
|Altitude||1,000 - 1,100m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 2 for key species. This is one of only two protected area in which the globally threatened Turdoides hindei, a restricted-range Kenya endemic, is known to occur. The babblers occur only in the denser bushland along watercourses, and at relatively low densities (1.3 birds/km of watercourse; estimated total population c.50 birds in 15 groups). This is also a rich locality for birds generally, especially birds of prey, and is close to the Mwea rice growing area which attracts a large number of waterbirds and shorebirds. Ardeola idae is an uncommon non-breeding visitor from May to October. Mwea holds at least 14 of Kenya’s 94 Somali–Masai biome species, and more are likely to be added in future. Two species rarely recorded in Kenya, Scotopelia peli (regionally threatened) and Gorsachius leuconotus, occur here in riverine woodland. Other regionally threatened species include Anhinga rufa, which nests on Masinga Reservoir to the west, and Polemaetus bellicosus, the status of which is unknown.
Site description Mwea National Reserve contains gently rolling Acacia–Commiphora bushland on the north shore of the Kamburu Reservoir, at the confluence of the Tana and Thiba rivers, 100 km north-west of Nairobi. This small reserve lies just east of Masinga Reservoir (IBA KE032). Within its borders are 700 ha (including two small islands) of the 1,500 ha Kamburu Dam. The reserve was created in 1975 as a wildlife sanctuary, and is owned by the Mbeere County Council (pending District confirmation) and managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The area is semi-arid with an annual rainfall of between 250 and 500 mm. Thick bush (dominated by Acacia mellifera, with Grewia, Sesbania, Cassia and A. brevispica, as well as some Lantana) and scattered trees, including baobab Adansonia digitata, line the waterfront. This thins out further up the slope, with a mixture of A. mellifera and Commiphora species and some open glades. Richer scrub and woodland line seasonal rivers and streams. Sesbania forms a broad, fairly dense cover on flood-plains, especially the northern part of the Thiba. The reserve is essentially undeveloped. There is a campsite and c.95 km of rough roads, but no accommodation.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Yellow-necked Spurfowl Francolinus leucoscepus||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Endangered|
|Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Red-bellied Parrot Poicephalus rufiventris||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|White-bellied Go-away-bird Corythaixoides leucogaster||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Abyssinian Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus minor||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Von der Decken's Hornbill Tockus deckeni||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|D'Arnaud's Barbet Trachyphonus darnaudii||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Northern Pied-babbler Turdoides hypoleuca||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Hinde's Pied-babbler Turdoides hindei||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Vulnerable|
|White-breasted White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Steel-blue Whydah Vidua hypocherina||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Mwea||National Reserve||6,803||protected area contains site||4,200|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Woodland - mixed||-|
|Savanna||Bushland & thicket - evergreen||-|
|Shrubland||Scrub - forest||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||-|
Other biodiversity Large and small herbivores are numerous, including Loxodonta africana (EN). Crocodylus niloticus and Hippopotamus amphibius occur in the dam.
Management considerations Conservation problems in Mwea centre on human–wildlife conflict. Animals, especially Loxodonta africana and Syncerus caffer, move out of the reserve to destroy crops in the settled areas nearby. The Kenya Wildlife Service is in the process of preparing a Management Plan for the reserve, following on from a planning workshop held in June 1996. One of the steps then agreed was to construct an electric fence around the land boundary, both to prevent crop damage by animals and to prevent unauthorized access, destruction of trees and poaching by people. Work on the fence, and on a new Park Headquarters building and staff quarters, has now begun. The elephant population, which numbered about 45 in 1995, is in any case felt to be too large for the size of the reserve. Translocation of elephants began in late 1995, when a family group of five and a single bull were successfully immobilized and moved to Tsavo East National Park, and the programme is ongoing. Questions of problem animals aside, Mwea’s future as a Protected Area depends on attracting sufficient paying visitors to make it economically viable. This will require improving access roads, rehabilitating the internal roads, constructing offices, a gatehouse and staff housing, and developing campsites. There is also need to rehabilitate the nearby Masinga Tourist Lodge, owned by the Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority. This provided a convenient base for visits to the reserve but is presently closed. Given the importance of Mwea’s birds, especially Turdoides hindei, as an attraction, visitors should be given as much opportunity as possible to move about on foot, without being constantly confined to their vehicles.Pollution of the Tana river by agricultural industries upstream is a problem, causing concern for the aquatic life in Kamburu Dam and limiting the possibilities of developing water-based recreation for visitors. The density, distribution and habitat selection of Turdoides hindei in the reserve are presently unknown, and survey work is needed to feed into the management process. Mwea is fortunate in that a conservation charity, the Mwea National Reserve Trust, has been working since 1990 to facilitate the reserve’s development. So far they have purchased a boat for the Warden and staff, to use for patrols and for waterfront tours by visitors; supplied local communities with fuel-efficient stoves, to reduce pressure on fuelwood in the reserve; and carried out road construction to improve access. Further input from the Trust must await finalization of the management planning process.Mwea appears to support fewer than 20 groups of Turdoides hindei, at low population densities. The long-term viability of this population might be in question were it to become isolated from others by destruction of habitat corridors along connecting watercourses.
References Birnie (1992), Campbell (1992), Le Pelley (1992), Loefler (1989), Njau-ini (1996), Shaw et al. (2001), Zimmerman et al. (1996).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mwea National Reserve. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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