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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.

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 


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

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
other -

Other 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.

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

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: South Nguruman. Downloaded from on 23/09/2014

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