email a friend
printable version
Location Kenya, Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 35o 18.42' East  1o 21.42' South
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 530,000 ha
Altitude 1,500 - 2,170m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description This area includes the Masai Mara National Reserve (181,200 ha) and the surrounding wildlife dispersal areas (482,800 ha) in south-western Kenya. Collectively, the reserve and its surrounds are often called the Greater Mara; here, Masai Mara refers to the entire IBA. The site adjoins the Serengeti National Park along the Kenya/Tanzania border, and is considered part of the same ecosystem. The National Reserve is Kenya’s most-visited protected area, world famous for its high density of herbivores and predators, and the annual migrations of wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus. In 1996, it was nominated for designation as a World Heritage Site. To the north, east and west are large parcels of land demarcated as group ranches owned and inhabited by the semi-nomadic pastoral Maasai people. This communal land forms an extensive wildlife dispersal area for the reserve, comprising the group ranches of Siana (152,000 ha), Koiyaki (94,000 ha), Olkinyei (80,000 ha), Lemek (66,000 ha), Kimindet (37,000 ha), Olorien (26,000 ha), Olchorro Ouirwa (11,800 ha), Kerinkani (8,100 ha) and Angata Baragoi (7,900 ha). Habitats in the Masai Mara are varied, including open rolling grassland, riverine forest, Acacia woodland, swamps, non-deciduous thickets, boulder-strewn escarpments, and Acacia, Croton andTarchonanthus scrub. The permanent Mara and Talek rivers, and their tributaries, flow through the reserve and approximately trisect it. There is a pronounced rainfall gradient from the drier east (with c.800 mm rain/year) to the wetter west (with c.1,200 mm/year).

Populations of IBA trigger species

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  1999  present [units unknown]  A1  Endangered 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1999  present [units unknown]  A1  Least Concern 
Corncrake Crex crex winter  present [units unknown]  A1  Least Concern 
Black-faced Sandgrouse Pterocles decoratus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Sombre Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Nyanza Swift Apus niansae resident  1999    Least Concern 
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates 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 
Usambiro Barbet Trachyphonus usambiro resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2  Least Concern 
Tullberg's Woodpecker Campethera tullbergi resident  1999    Least Concern 
Grey-crested Helmet-shrike Prionops poliolophus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1999    Least Concern 
Long-tailed Fiscal Lanius cabanisi resident  1999    Least Concern 
Taita Fiscal Lanius dorsalis resident  1999    Least Concern 
Red-throated Tit Parus fringillinus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1  Least Concern 
Grey Wren-warbler Camaroptera simplex resident  1999    Least Concern 
Joyful Greenbul Chlorocichla laetissima resident  1999    Least Concern 
Brown Warbler Sylvia lugens resident  1999    Least Concern 
Banded Warbler Sylvia boehmi resident  1999    Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Hildebrandt's Starling Lamprotornis hildebrandti resident  1999    Least Concern 
Sharpe's Starling Cinnyricinclus sharpii resident  1999    Least Concern 
African Grey Flycatcher Bradornis microrhynchus resident  1999    Least Concern 
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher Dioptrornis fischeri resident  1999    Least Concern 
Bronze Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis resident  1999    Least Concern 
Golden-winged Sunbird Nectarinia reichenowi unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Rufous-tailed Weaver Histurgops ruficaudus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2  Least Concern 
White-headed Buffalo-weaver Dinemellia dinemelli resident  1999    Least Concern 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  1999    Least Concern 
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster resident  1999    Least Concern 
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis resident  1999    Least Concern 
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Purple Grenadier Uraeginthus ianthinogaster resident  1999    Least Concern 
Grey-headed Silverbill Lonchura griseicapilla resident  1999    Least Concern 
Grey-faced Citril Serinus hypostictus resident  1999    Least Concern 
White-bellied Canary Serinus dorsostriatus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Serinus striolatus unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Not Recognised 
Thick-billed Seedeater Serinus burtoni resident  1999    Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Angata Baragoi Private Reserve 7,900 protected area contained by site 7,900  
Kerinkani Private Reserve 8,100 protected area contained by site 8,100  
Kimindet Private Reserve 37,000 protected area contained by site 37,000  
Koiyaki Private Reserve 94,000 protected area contained by site 94,000  
Lemek Private Reserve 66,000 protected area contained by site 66,000  
Masai Mara National Reserve 151,000 protected area contained by site 151,000  
Olchorro Ouirwa Private Reserve 11,800 protected area contained by site 11,800  
Olkinyei Private Reserve 80,000 protected area contained by site 80,000  
Olorien Private Reserve 26,000 protected area contained by site 26,000  
Siana Private Reserve 152,000 protected area contained by site 152,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Lowland forest - riparian; Woodland - monodominant  -
Grassland Grassland - edaphic, dry  -
Savanna Bushland & thicket - evergreen  -
Shrubland Scrub - woodland  -

Land use

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

Other biodiversity The Masai Mara is remarkable for its great concentration of large herbivores and their attendant predators. The density of herbivores is estimated as nearly 240/km2, with a biomass of just under 30 tonnes/km2. The extraordinary annual migration of some 1.5 million Connochaetes taurinus (and 200,000 Equus burchelli) is world famous. There are particularly large numbers of Panthera leo (VU) and spotted hyaena Crocuta crocuta, and populations of the threatened Diceros bicornis (CR) and Loxodonta africana (EN). Lycaon pictus (EN) now appears to be extinct in the reserve, having succumbed to epidemics of rabies and canine distemper virus (possibly caused by exposure to domestic dogs). A population still survives in the scrublands of Naikarra and Laleta Hills on Siana Group Ranch.

References Bennun (1994c), Braunstein (1996), Douglas-Hamilton (1988), Finch (1994), Gakahu (1991, 1992), Jones (1982), Kahindi (1994), Kahindi and McIlvaine (1993), Martyn (1995), Opala (1996), Scott (1992), Stattersfield et al. (1998), Tuya (1996), Wasilwa (1997), Wilson (undated).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Masai Mara. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 17/04/2014

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