|Location||Kenya, Western Province|
|Central coordinates||34o 15.00' East 0o 25.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A3|
|Altitude||1,200 - 1,220m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2001|
Ornithological information See Box and Table 3 for key species. Hirundo atrocaerulea, a globally threatened intra-African migrant, is a non-breeding visitor to this area from April to September. It feeds over grassland and over 100 have been recorded roosting at the flooded grassland patch near Mungatsi. Gallinago media is an uncommon Palearctic migrant, likely to occur here regularly but its current status is uncertain. The riverine forest and scrub at Mungatsi also holds several Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome species that are not found in other IBAs. This is also the only Kenyan IBA in which Caprimulgus (pectoralis) nigriscapularis and Sylvietta virens, two Guinea–Congo Forests biome species, are recorded. Regionally threatened species include Circaetus cinerascens, Alcedo quadribrachys (recorded at Mungatsi) and Euplectes hartlaubi (nests in flooded grassland).
Site description This area comprises a chain of small grassland patches (some seasonally flooded) in western Kenya, including Mungatsi (36 ha, 0°27’67N 34°19’69E), Matayo (210 ha, 0°23’01N 34°08’73E), Sikoma (1 ha, 0°24’03N 34°11’03E), and Malanga (3 ha, 0°25’96N 34°18’44E). All the patches are surrounded by intensive agriculture, mainly maize and sugarcane, and are grazed by livestock. The most important of them is Mungatsi, located 2 km from Mungatsi market along the Mungatsi–Munami road. This privately-owned site lies on either side of a small stream (a tributary of the River Sio), which is fringed by riverine forest and scrub.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Great Snipe Gallinago media||passage||-||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Black-shouldered Nightjar Caprimulgus nigriscapularis||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Speckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendropicos poecilolaemus||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Piapiac Ptilostomus afer||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea||winter||-||present [units unknown]||-||A1||Vulnerable|
|Green Crombec Sylvietta virens||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Purple Glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Superb Sunbird Nectarinia superba||resident||1999||-||-||Least Concern|
|Black-bellied Firefinch Lagonosticta rara||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
|Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes||resident||1999||present [units unknown]||-||A3||Least Concern|
Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.
|Busia Environmental and Conservation Education Programme||2005|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Artificial landscapes (terrestrial)||Arable land||-|
|Grassland||Grassland - edaphic, wet||-|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
Other biodiversity These vanishing grasslands have been little studied. On biogeographic grounds, they are likely to have close links with Ugandan grasslands and to contain species that are found nowhere else in Kenya.
Management considerations The tiny grassland patches in Busia District are under severe and immediate threat. Busia has a high human population density that is increasing very fast, and there is great pressure on land. A sugar factory is now established in the area and cane growing is being promoted—in 1996, several grassland areas were slated for conversion into sugar-cane plantations. These developments may spell doom to the small pockets of grassland on which Hirundo atrocaerulea depends. Swallows move long distances in search of prey, which suggests that a mosaic of grasslands could sustain a wintering population. However, the presence of a suitable roosting site may be critical. Protection of Mungatsi, by land purchase if there is no other option, is an urgent priority. This site is also home to a number of other bird species that are difficult to find elsewhere in Kenya, such as the Sylvietta virens. It is already visited by many birdwatching groups and has potential for small-scale bird tourism.
References Finch (1989), Nasirwa and Njoroge (1997), Turner and Rose (1989), Zimmerman et al. (1996).
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Busia grasslands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/06/2013
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