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Location Kenya, Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 35o 55.38' East  0o 36.72' South
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 72,000 ha
Altitude 2,700 - 3,100m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description An extensive area of montane grassland along the crest of the Mau Escarpment, which forms the western wall of the central Rift Valley in Kenya. This high, open plateau runs for c.80 km south-east to north-west, and is bounded on each side (and partially interrupted) by the forests of the Mau forest complex (IBA KE051). Rainfall is c.1,000 mm/year, and the original vegetation is short grassland, with some heather and scrub on the ridges where the soil is deeper. The area has high potential for cultivated agriculture, and has gradually been settled and cultivated since the 1950s; it is now heavily populated, with a landscape severely modified by cultivation. Cereals are the major crops, and much grassland has been converted by ploughing and re-seeding with exotic species to provide better grazing for sheep.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. Macronyx sharpei and Cisticola aberdare are both known to occur, but their current status and distribution within the IBA are unknown. Falco naumanni is a formerly regular Palearctic passage migrant, and Gallinago media is an uncommon Palearctic winter visitor. The current status of Euplectes jacksoni is unknown. The restricted-range Francolinus jacksoni was formerly common at forest margins, and Cisticola hunteri is likely to be common in scrubby areas. A bird list was compiled in the 1960s, but there is little recent information on the birds of this area. The present-day avifauna is likely to be similar to that of the Kinangop Plateau (IBA KE004) on the opposite side of the Rift Valley. Regionally threatened species include Neotis denhami (probably extirpated) and Podiceps cristatus (status unknown; may still breed on upland dams).

Non-bird biodiversity: The fauna and flora of these grasslands has been little studied. A number of plant, insect, amphibian and reptile species that are confined to highland grassland probably occur. There are records of two near-endemic frogs, Hyperolius montanus and Rana wittei. Hyperolius montanus was considered secure in 1980, but it is a species of montane grassland and may now be under threat. The snake Bitis worthingtonii, endemic to the central Kenyan Rift Valley above 1,500 m, probably occurs.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1999  present  A1  Least Concern 
Great Snipe Gallinago media winter  uncommon  A1  Near Threatened 
Hunter's Cisticola Cisticola hunteri resident  1999  present  A2  Least Concern 
Aberdare Cisticola Cisticola aberdare resident  1999  present  A2  Endangered 
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Endangered 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) moderate to rapid deterioration high
Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Grassland   0 0 poor (40-69%) poor (40-69%) very unfavourable

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management planning has taken place  Very little or no conservation action taking place  negligible 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland Grassland - montane  100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -

References Sessions (1966).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mau Narok - Molo grasslands. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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