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Location Kenya, Rift Valley Province,Western Province
Central coordinates 34o 37.98' East  1o 0.48' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 110,000 ha
Altitude 2,100 - 4,280m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureKenya



Site description This area comprises montane forest, wooded grassland, bamboo and alpine moorland on the eastern slopes of Mount Elgon, Kenya’s second-highest mountain. Mount Elgon lies c.140 km north-east of Lake Victoria and is bisected by the Kenya/Uganda border. It is an ancient, eroded volcano with a huge caldera and, on its summit, the spectacular flat-topped basalt column known as Koitobos. Another unique feature of the mountain is the ‘lava tube’ caves, some over 60 m wide and frequented by elephants (and other animals) digging for salts. The mountain soils are red laterite, and rainfall is c.1,200 mm on the mid-slopes. The vegetation is zoned by altitude, with wet montane forest dominated by Olea capensis and Aningeria adolfi-friedericii grading into Olea–Podocarpus falcatus forest, a zone of mixed Podocarpus and bamboo Arundinaria alpina, and the Hagenia abyssinica zone with giant heath Erica arborea and E. trimera elgonensis. Afro-alpine moorlands occupy the highest parts of the mountain, with tussock grasses such as Festuca pilgeri, bogs of Carex runssoroensis, giant groundsels and giant lobelias. Open wooded grassland with Erythrina and Combretum covers part of the lower, drier north-eastern slopes. Mount Elgon National Park (16,900 ha, gazetted in 1968) covers a narrow transect up the north-eastern slopes of the mountain, from lower montane forest to the caldera edge. The remaining forest and moorland (73,000 ha) is part of Mount Elgon Forest Reserve. The north-eastern wooded grassland (c.5,000 ha) is unprotected. The Ugandan side of the mountain, above c.2,000 m, is protected within Uganda’s Mount Elgon National Park. Mount Elgon is an important water catchment for the Nzoia river, which flows into Lake Victoria, and for the Turkwel river, which flows into Lake Turkana (IBA KE028).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ring-necked Francolin Francolinus streptophorus resident  1999    Near Threatened 
Moorland Francolin Francolinus psilolaemus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Jackson's Francolin Francolinus jacksoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Buzzard Buteo oreophilus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Striped Flufftail Sarothrura affinis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Hartlaub's Turaco Tauraco hartlaubi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Red-chested Owlet Glaucidium tephronotum resident  1999    Least Concern 
Sombre Nightjar Caprimulgus fraenatus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Montane Nightjar Caprimulgus poliocephalus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sabine's Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Bar-tailed Trogon Apaloderma vittatum resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Cinnamon-chested Bee-eater Merops oreobates resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-and-white-casqued Hornbill Bycanistes subcylindricus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Moustached Green-tinkerbird Pogoniulus leucomystax resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-spotted Barbet Buccanodon duchaillui resident  1999    Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Barbet Trachyphonus purpuratus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Tullberg's Woodpecker Campethera tullbergi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Speckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendropicos poecilolaemus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-crowned Woodpecker Thripias xantholophus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Doherty's Bush-shrike Telophorus dohertyi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Grey Cuckooshrike Coracina caesia resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-tailed Oriole Oriolus percivali resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-tailed Crested-flycatcher Elminia albonotata resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Dusky Tit Parus funereus unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Chubb's Cisticola Cisticola chubbi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Hunter's Cisticola Cisticola hunteri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Boran Cisticola Cisticola bodessa resident  1999    Least Concern 
Foxy Cisticola Cisticola troglodytes resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-collared Apalis Oreolais pulchra resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Apalis rufogularis resident  1999    Not Recognised 
Chestnut-throated Apalis Apalis porphyrolaema resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Olive-green Camaroptera Camaroptera chloronota unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Eastern Mountain Greenbul Andropadus nigriceps resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Shelley's Greenbul Andropadus masukuensis unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Ansorge's Greenbul Andropadus ansorgei unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Plain Greenbul Andropadus curvirostris unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Honeyguide Greenbul Baeopogon indicator unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Joyful Greenbul Chlorocichla laetissima resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Toro Olive Greenbul Phyllastrephus hypochloris unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Common Bristlebill Bleda syndactylus resident  1999    Least Concern 
Bracken Warbler Bradypterus cinnamomeus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Flycatcher-warbler Chloropeta similis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Green Hylia Hylia prasina resident  1999    Least Concern 
Brown Woodland-warbler Phylloscopus umbrovirens resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-browed Crombec Sylvietta leucophrys resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Warbler Sylvia lugens resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Mountain Illadopsis Illadopsis pyrrhoptera resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Grey-chested Babbler Kakamega poliothorax unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
African Hill Babbler Pseudoalcippe abyssinica resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Pied-babbler Turdoides sharpei resident  1999    Least Concern 
Purple Glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Starling Cinnyricinclus sharpii resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Waller's Starling Onychognathus walleri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Slender-billed Starling Onychognathus tenuirostris unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Stuhlmann's Starling Poeoptera stuhlmanni unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Zoothera piaggiae resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Not Recognised 
White-starred Robin Pogonocichla stellata resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Equatorial Akalat Sheppardia aequatorialis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Blue-shouldered Robin-chat Cossypha cyanocampter unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Moorland Chat Cercomela sordida resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
White-eyed Slaty Flycatcher Dioptrornis fischeri resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Eastern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia mediocris unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Green Sunbird Anthreptes rectirostris unknown  1999  unknown [units unknown]    Least Concern 
Northern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia preussi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Tacazze Sunbird Nectarinia tacazze resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Bronze Sunbird Nectarinia kilimensis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Golden-winged Sunbird Nectarinia reichenowi resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Baglafecht Weaver Ploceus baglafecht resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Black-billed Weaver Ploceus melanogaster resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Heuglin's Masked-weaver Ploceus heuglini resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-capped Weaver Ploceus insignis resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A1, A2, A3  Endangered 
Grey-faced Citril Serinus hypostictus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Serinus striolatus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Not Recognised 
Thick-billed Seedeater Serinus burtoni resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 
Oriole Finch Linurgus olivaceus resident  1999  present [units unknown]  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Mount Elgon Forest Reserve 73,089 protected area contained by site 73,089  
Mount Elgon National Park 16,923 protected area contained by site 16,923  
Mount Elgon UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 208,821 protected area contained by site 110,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Montane forest - monodominant  -
Savanna Bamboo - Montane; Wooded grassland  -

Land use

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

Other biodiversity Among mammals, the rare Felis aurata has been recorded in this forest, but its status is unknown, and Loxodonta africana (EN) and Tragelaphus eurycerus (LR/nt; declining and uncommon in Kenya) occur. There is a distinctive endemic subspecies of Tragelaphus scriptus heterochrous, and several endemic small mammals, including Crocidura elgonius (VU), Tachyoryctes ruddi and Mus sorella. The frog Anthroleptides dutoiti (EX) is known only from one specimen collected from the Koitobos river on Mount Elgon in 1980. Notable alpine plants include Senecio johnstoni elgonensis, Lobelia deckenii elgonensis, Lobelia cheranganiensis, Alchemilla elgonsis, A. microbetula and Helichrysum amblyphyllum, all of which are endemic or near-endemic to Mount Elgon.

Further web sources of information 

Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This site has been identified as an AZE due to it containing a Critically Endangered or Endangered species with a limited range.

References Beck et al. (1987), Britton (1980), Britton and Sugg (1973), Ekkens (1988), Hoefsloot and Onyango (1995), Wily (1993).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mount Elgon (Kenya). Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 21/04/2014

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