Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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Kenya, Rift Valley Province
36o 5.00' East 0o 38.00' North
975 - 1,070m
Year of IBA assessment
Site description The IBA includes Lake Baringo (16,800 ha) and its islands, the bushland within the 1,000 m depression contour surrounding the lake (11,600 ha), and the striking cliffs to the west of Kampi ya Samaki. Baringo, a shallow freshwater lake, lies c.110 km north of Nakuru town. The Laikipia escarpment to the east and the Tugen Hills in the west borders its catchment. The maximum depth is only c.6 m, and the lake is becoming shallower through soil erosion in the surrounding land. Rainfall is c.650 mm/year. The area around the western shore is mainly Acacia tortilis woodland, with small bush-covered hills, gorges and cliffs. Ficus spp. grow on the cliff faces. The north and east have denser bush, thinning out towards the south, dominated by Acacia mellifera, A. reficiens and species of Boscia,Commiphora, Terminalia and Balanites. The open, flat southern part is bushland interspersed with dry riverbeds and stands of Acacia tortilis and A. elatior. Swampy wetlands, with Typha reeds and Echinochloa marsh grass, occur at the mouths of rivers draining into the lake, notably the Ndau, Molo and Mukutan, and much of the shore is lined with Ambatch Aeschynomene sp. The lake supports an important fishery and is a major tourist destination.
Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. Several of the Somali–Masai biome species are found at few other sites, most notably the uncommon Tockus jacksonii and Tockus hemprichii, the latter frequenting the cliffs, and Onychognathus salvadorii. Baringo is a well-known destination for birdwatchers and over 500 bird species have been recorded. A colony of up to 20 Ardea goliath has nested on one of the islands in the lake. While the diversity of waterbirds is considerable, total numbers are usually only in the low thousands. Globally threatened species include Falco naumanni (a passage migrant in small flocks), Phoenicopterus minor (an occasional visitor, usually on passage), Ardeola idae (a rare non-breeding visitor) and Circus macrourus (a regular passage migrant). A number of regionally threatened species are also recorded, namely Podiceps cristatus (no recent records); Anhinga rufa (small numbers resident, has bred on Ndau Island in the lake); Casmerodius albus (regular, up to 100 recorded); Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis; Thalassornis leuconotus; Trigonoceps occipitalis; Polemaetus bellicosus; Porzana pusilla; and Rynchops flavirostris.
Non-bird biodiversity: The lake supports large populations of Crocodylus niloticus and Hippopotamus amphibius. An apparently range-restricted snake, Coluber keniensis, is known from only one specimen collected here. Little is recorded about the other wildlife values of the area.