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Location Kenya, Western Province
Central coordinates 34o 53.00' East  0o 17.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 18,300 ha
Altitude 1,550 - 1,650m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description The site is a mid-altitude tropical rainforest, the easternmost outlier of the Congo Basin forests. Its West African affinities are unique in Kenya, and the forest contains many species found nowhere else in the country. The forest lies in the Lake Victoria catchment, c.40 km north of Kisumu, and just east of the Nandi Escarpment that forms the edge of the central highlands. It was first gazetted as Trust Forest in 1933, and two small nature reserves, Yala and Isecheno (c.700 ha), were established within the Forest Reserve in 1967. In 1986, nearly 4,000 ha of the northern portion of the forest, along with the adjacent 457 ha Kisere forest, were gazetted as a National Reserve, managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Only an estimated 10,000 ha of the overall gazetted area is still closed-canopy indigenous forest, of which some 3,200 ha is in the National Reserve. The remaining area consists of grassy and bushed glades (some natural, some maintained by fire or grazing), tea, cultivation and 1,700 ha of plantations of softwoods and commercially valuable hardwoods. Kakamega forest is an important water catchment; the Isiukhu and Yala rivers flow through the forest and gather tributaries from it. The terrain is undulating, with often steep-sided river valleys. The soils are well-drained, deep, heavily leached, clay-loams and clays, of generally low fertility. Rainfall is c.2,000 mm/year, decreasing from south to north, and apparently declining due to deforestation.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The avifauna is well known, rich, and unusual in its composition. Two globally threatened species occur, Muscicapa lendu (scarce resident) and Eremomela turneri (reasonably common). The 194 forest-dependent bird species (the highest total for any Kenyan forest) include many of Kenya’s Guinea–Congo Forests biome species, as well as 33 of Kenya’s 70 Afrotropical Highlands biome species. The mixture reflects Kakamega’s altitudinal position between lowland and montane forest. Kakamega’s avifauna is unique not only nationally, but continentally. Several species have isolated, relict populations here, including Andropadus ansorgei, Merops muelleri, Muscicapa lendu and Eremomela turneri, which are absent from all or nearly all of the superficially similar mid-elevation forests in Uganda. Muscicapa lendu is a restricted-range species that characterizes the Kakamega and Nandi forests Secondary Area, and is also present in the Albertine Rift mountains Endemic Bird Area. The presence of the eremomela indicates biogeographic links to the Eastern DR Congo lowlands Endemic Bird Area. Kakamega itself has few endemic taxa; among birds, there is an endemic subspecies (kavirondensis) of Andropadus ansorgei. At least 16 bird species occur in Kakamega but nowhere else in Kenya, and another 30 (such as Psittacus erithacus) are probably now confined to this site. The grassy glades have their own distinctive avifauna, with many moist-grassland species that are now rare elsewhere in western Kenya. Regionally threatened species include Circaetus cinerascens (fairly common resident), Hieraaetus ayresii (relatively abundant), Stephanoaetus coronatus (resident in small numbers), Tyto capensis (no recent records), Glaucidium tephronotum (widespread at low density), Indicator exilis (not uncommon), Indicator conirostris (uncommon), Prodotiscus insignis (rare, with few recent records), Phyllastrephus baumanni (not uncommon, but rarely recorded), Kakamega poliothorax (extremely local and generally scarce), Sheppardia polioptera (patchily distributed), Hyliota australis (uncommon in forest canopy), Dyaphorophyia concreta (very local), Campephaga quiscalina (rarely recorded) and Euplectes hartlaubi (local).

Non-bird biodiversity: Several West African forest mammals occur, including Potamogale velox (EN). The small mammal community is also very rich and shows strong affinities to the Congo basin. At least 28 snake species are recorded, including the rare Pseudohaje goldii and other West African species such as Philothamnus heterodermus carinatus, Hapsidophrys lineata, Dendroaspis jamesoni kaimosae, Atheris squamiger squamiger, A. hispida and Bitis nasicornis. Two notable and probably endangered forest amphibians, Leptopelis modestus and Hyperolius lateralis, are recorded. The forest’s butterfly fauna is very diverse and important, both regionally and continentally; around 350 species are thought to occur, including at least one endemic, Metisella kakamega, and a near-endemic, Euphaedra rex. Kakamega has a rich diversity of trees, although endemism is low, the only woody endemic being the liana Tiliacora kenyensis.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Trachyphonus purpuratus resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Hairy-breasted Barbet Tricholaema hirsuta resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-spotted Flufftail Sarothrura pulchra resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Psittacus erithacus resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Red-chested Owlet Glaucidium tephronotum resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Sabine's Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Merops muelleri resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Grey-cheeked Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Cassin's Honeybird Prodotiscus insignis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-crested Woodpecker Dendropicos xantholophus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
African Shrike-flycatcher Megabyas flammulatus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut Wattle-eye Platysteira castanea resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Jameson's Wattle-eye Platysteira jamesoni resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-green Bush-shrike Telophorus bocagei resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Petit's Cuckooshrike Campephaga petiti resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Western Black-headed Oriole Oriolus brachyrhynchus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-headed Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone rufiventer resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Tit Parus funereus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Apalis rufogularis resident  1999  present  A3  Not Recognised 
Olive-green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Greenbul Andropadus gracilis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Ansorge's Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Plain Greenbul Andropadus curvirostris resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Toro Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus hypochloris resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Common Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Green Hylia Hylia prasina resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Uganda Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus budongoensis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Turner's Eremomela Eremomela turneri resident  1999  present  A1, A3  Endangered 
Scaly-breasted Illadopsis Illadopsis albipectus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Illadopsis Illadopsis fulvescens resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Ant-thrush Neocossyphus poensis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-shouldered Robin-chat Cossypha cyanocampter resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chapin's Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu resident  1999  present  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Green Sunbird Anthreptes rectirostris resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Green-throated Sunbird Nectarinia rubescens resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Vieillot's Black Weaver Ploceus nigerrimus resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-headed Malimbe Malimbus rubricollis resident  1999  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2009 medium unfavourable medium
Habitat
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agricultural expansion and intensification annual & perennial non-timber crops - agro-industry farming happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Agricultural expansion and intensification livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - small-holder grazing, ranching or farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification marine and freshwater aquaculture - subsistence/artisinal aquaculture happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - agro-industry plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Agricultural expansion and intensification wood and pulp plantations (includes afforestation) - small-holder plantations happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Climate change and severe weather drought happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Invasive and other problematic species and genes introduced genetic material likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Invasive and other problematic species and genes problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Transportation and service corridors roads and railroads likely in short term (within 4 years) small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low

Forest   0 0 moderate (70-90%) moderate (70-90%) unfavourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Kakamega Forest Reserve 17,838 protected area contained by site 17,838  
Kakamega National Reserve 4,468 protected area contained by site 4,468  

Local conservation groups The local conservation groups below are working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
KEEP 1995
Mureshi community Forest association 2007
Kakamega Forest Guides Association 1995

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   10%
Forest Mid-altitude forest - transitional  65%
Grassland Grassland - secondary  25%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
forestry -
nature conservation and research -

References Angwin (1980), Beentje (1990), Bennun (1994a), Bennun and Waiyaki (1992c), Blackett (1994c), Brooks et al. (1999), Diamond and Fayad (1979), Emerton (1994), Kigomo (1987), Kokwaro (1988), Mann (1980, 1985), Mutangah and Mwaura (1992), Oyugi (1996), Rowell (1992), Savalli (1989, 1991), Spawls (1978), Stattersfield et al. 1998), Tennant (1965), Wahome (1992), Wass (1995), Zimmerman (1972).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kakamega forest. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/12/2014

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