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Location Kenya, Rift Valley Province
Central coordinates 35o 55.08' East  1o 46.14' South
IBA criteria A1, A2
Area 170,000 ha
Altitude 900 - 2,300m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description The Nguruman Escarpment forms the western wall of the Rift Valley in southernmost Kenya, some 150 km south-west of Nairobi. The scarp rises steeply in a series of stepped, rocky faults from the flood-plain of the Southern Ewaso Ngiro river on the valley floor at c.900 m to some 2,300 m on the escarpment crest. From here the land falls more gently away to the Loita Plains and the Masai Mara (IBA KE050). The vegetation changes from open Acacia tortilis woodland on the plain, to dense Acacia–Commiphora bush on the lower slopes, to Tarchonanthus thicket and grassland and, finally, submontane forest. Clear, fast-running, rocky streams flow down the escarpment, fringed on their lower reaches with tall riparian forest of figs Ficus spp. Beyond the escarpment crest, the rolling country is a mosaic of grassland, scrub and forest, with Podocarpus falcatus, P. latifolius and Diospyros abyssinica among the trees. Rainfall at the base of the eastern scarp is c.400 mm/year, rising to 750 mm on the forested ridges and peaks. Mist and dew can be heavy in the highest areas. Several Maasai group ranches communally own land on the escarpment and hills. One section of the escarpment has been leased to a private company for the development of luxury tourism.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. This is likely to be an important site for the threatened, restricted-range Prionops poliolophus, but although recorded here its status is uncertain. It is most likely to be found in Tarchonanthus thicket. The [near-?] threatened Parus fringillinus is probably resident in Acacia woodland, and Euplectes jacksoni nests in long grassland above the escarpment crest. Cisticola hunteri occurs at forest edges and in scrub on the escarpment crest. South Nguruman has very varied habitats and thus supports a diversity of bird species, from those characteristic of the Somali–Masai biome (27 of 94 Kenyan species), on the lower slopes, to Afrotropical Highlands biome species in the forest (30 of 70 species). South Nguruman is the only Kenyan site for Apalis alticola and one of the very few for Corvinella melanoleucus. Only parts of the site have been surveyed, and additional species will doubtless be added to the list. Regionally threatened species include Gypaetus barbatus (status uncertain, may be only an occasional visitor), Stephanoaetus coronatus (uncommon resident), Sarothrura affinis and Campephaga quiscalina (uncommon).

Non-bird biodiversity: The site holds substantial populations of large mammals, possibly including Diceros bicornis (CR) and Lycaon pictus (EN). There is little information on other fauna and flora.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Grey-crested Helmet-shrike Prionops poliolophus resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 
Red-throated Tit Parus fringillinus resident  1999  present  A1  Least Concern 
Hunter's Cisticola Cisticola hunteri resident  1999  present  A2  Least Concern 
Jackson's Widowbird Euplectes jacksoni resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2007 not assessed not assessed not assessed


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - mixed; Woodland - mixed  -
Shrubland Scrub - woodland  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
other -

References Bennun (1994c), Cunningham-van Someren (1977).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: South Nguruman. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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