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Location Kenya, Eastern Province,Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 37o 30.00' East  0o 36.00' North
IBA criteria A3
Area 29,600 ha
Altitude 850 - 1,250m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description These small, adjoining savanna National Reserves lie either side of the Northern Ewaso Ngiro river, some 340 km north north-east of Nairobi. They were established in 1948 as the Samburu-Isiolo Game Reserve, part of the once extensive Marsabit National Reserve. Now their respective County Councils, Samburu and Isiolo manage them. Buffalo Springs consists of gently rolling plains of volcanic origin, while Samburu is more rugged, with outcrops of ancient basement rocks forming isolated inselbergs. The soils are mainly sandy or gravelly; rainfall is c.350 mm/year. Despite their relatively small size, the reserves contain contrasting habitats: rocky cliffs and scarps; pools, swamps and riverine sandbanks; arid open bush and grassland; tracts of Acacia tortilis woodland; and, along the banks of the Ewaso Ngiro and its tributaries (the Isiolo and Ngare Mara), a narrow band of riverine forest with magnificent Acacia elatior, Tana River poplar Populus ilicifolia and doum palm Hyphaene compressa. The Buffalo Springs themselves, with their pools and streams of clear, fresh water, are a magnet for thirsty wildlife in the dry season.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. Over 380 species have been recorded from the reserves, and the birdlife is generally abundant and colourful. Birds of the arid northern bush country are augmented by a number of riverine forest species. Numerous raptors nest on the cliffs of Samburu’s inselbergs. Several arid-country birds reach their southern limit here, including Plocepasser donaldsoni, Nectarinia habessinica and Onychognathus salvadori. Two globally threatened species are recorded, Falco naumanni (a passage migrant) and Falco fasciinucha (status unclear, probably resident). Regionally threatened species include Anhinga rufa (sporadic visitor); Casmerodius albus (sporadic visitor); Trigonoceps occipitalis (resident in small numbers); Polemaetus bellicosus (resident in small numbers); and Buphagus africanus (fairly common resident).

Non-bird biodiversity: The reserves hold populations of several threatened mammal species, including Equus grevyi (EN), Loxodonta africana (EN) and Acinonyx jubatus (VU). The increasingly uncommon Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata occurs in good numbers. The tree Populus ilicifolia, which grows along the Northern Ewaso Ngiro river, is restricted to just three Kenyan river systems.

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 
Eastern Chanting-goshawk Melierax poliopterus 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 
White-headed Mousebird Colius leucocephalus 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 
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 
Red-winged Lark Mirafra hypermetra resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Pink-breasted Lark Mirafra poecilosterna resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Rufous Short-toed Lark Calandrella somalica 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 
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 
Rufous Chatterer Turdoides rubiginosa resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-breasted White-eye Zosterops abyssinicus 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 
Bristle-crowned Starling Onychognathus salvadorii 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 
Brown-tailed Chat Cercomela scotocerca 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 
Shining Sunbird Nectarinia habessinica resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Sunbird Nectarinia nectarinioides resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser donaldsoni 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 
Golden Palm Weaver Ploceus bojeri 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 
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 high very unfavourable low
  Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications other ecosystem modifications happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Pollution excess energy - noise pollution 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 roads and railroads happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Most of site (50-90%) covered (including the most critical parts for important bird species)  No management planning has taken place  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  low 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Buffalo Springs National Reserve 13,100 protected area contained by site 13,100  
Samburu National Reserve 16,500 protected area contained by site 16,500  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Lowland forest - riparian; Woodland - riparian  -
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry  -

Land use

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

References Finch et al. (1989), Richards (in press), Wilson (1989).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 26/12/2014

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