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Location Kenya, Nairobi Province
Central coordinates 36o 52.00' East  1o 21.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4ii
Area 11,700 ha
Altitude 1,540 - 1,780m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description An area of natural landscape at the grassland-forest boundary, only 7 km from the centre of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. The park’s varied habitats include open, rolling grass plains, riverine woodland, valley thicket and bush, artificial dams and ponds, rocky gorges and upland dry forest. The park is fenced along three sides, where it is adjacent to urban housing, industry, roads and airports; only the southern border, along the Embakasi and Athi rivers, is open for animal dispersal. Ecologically, the park is intimately linked to the Kitengela and Athi-Kapiti plains, which adjoin it to the south, forming a single ecological unit. Being close to the city centre and supporting a variety of large mammals, this park is a popular destination and a substantial money-earner for the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Nairobi National Park is an important roosting site for Falco naumanni flocks on passage (up to 5,000 have been recorded), although numbers have declined markedly in recent years. The substantial area of undisturbed grassland is of great importance for species such as the restricted-range Euplectes jacksoni, which breeds here regularly after good rains. The avifauna is diverse, with a remarkable 516 species recorded, including 27 of Kenya’s 94 Somali–Masai biome species (23 of which are regular), and 25 of Kenya’s 67 African Highland biome species. The globally threatened Crex crex is a scarce visitor from the Palearctic, and the Near Threatened Balaeniceps rex and Acrocephalus griseldis have both been recorded once. Ardeola idae is a regular non-breeding visitor (May–October) in small numbers, and Parus fringillinus is fairly common in riverine Acacia woodland. Regionally threatened species include Struthio camelus (common); Anhinga rufa (scarce visitor); Casmerodius albus (regular visitor to dams and ponds); Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis (resident in small numbers); Hieraaetus ayresii (scarce resident in the forest); Stephanoaetus coronatus (at least one pair nests in the forest); Polemaetus bellicosus (several pairs have home ranges that include the park); Podica senegalensis (resident in small numbers on thickly-fringed sections of the rivers); and Buphagus africanus (moderately common).

Non-bird biodiversity: Nairobi National Park has healthy populations of an array of large mammals. The park is a rhino sanctuary and numbers of Diceros bicornis (CR) are steadily increasing. Acinonyx jubatus (VU) also occur in good numbers. Several plants growing on the rocky hillsides are unique to the Nairobi area, including Euphorbia brevitorta, Drimia calcarata, Murdannia clarkeana and an undescribed Crassula sp. The park protects an important area of Croton–Brachylaena–Calodendron upland dry forest. This distinctive Nairobi forest-type exists now only as small, ever diminishing fragments.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae winter  present  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  5,000 individuals  A1, A4ii  Least Concern 
Red-throated Tit Parus fringillinus resident  1999  present  A1  Least Concern 
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2009 medium unfavourable high
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Climate change and severe weather habitat shifting and alteration happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
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%) slow but significant 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%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

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  The conservation measures needed for the site are being comprehensively and effectively implemented  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Nairobi National Park 11,721 is identical to site 11,700  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Woodland - riparian  -
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry  -
Savanna Bushland & thicket - evergreen; Wooded grassland  -

Land use

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

References Agnew and Agnew (1994), Beentje (1990), Harvey (1997), Loefler (1987), Mondolfi and Mondolfi (1993), Round-Turner (1996), Smalley (1983), Western (1996).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Nairobi National Park. Downloaded from on 24/11/2014

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