The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is located on the coast of Kenya, 110 km north of Mombasa and is protected as a national Forest Reserve.
The Arabuko-Sokoke National Park is only a small portion of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve, a few square kilometres in size and is located on the north-western edge of the forest.
The National Park was gazetted only in the late 1980s and in fact straddles the Forest Reserve boundary with about 50% lying outside the boundary.
This outer section actually lies outside an electric elephant fence installed in 2006/7 and is now fully inhabited by local communities to the extent that there is no sign on the ground to show where the National Park begins or ends.
The National Park doesn’t add any particular protection to the forest which is the largest fragment of coastal forest (420 square km) left in East Africa, and is an area of high endemism, containing endemic mammals, birds and plants.
The Reserve, however, is jointly managed by the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Forest Research Institute and is one of the better protected forests in Kenya.
The forest was first protected as a Crown Forest in 1943, and was gazetted in the 1960s. The forest is threatened by the desire for land by local people. Sreveral national and international conservation organisations are working with the Kenya Wildlife Service to protect the park.
The forest contains three forest types, mixed forest, Brachystegia and Cynometra, each of which protects different communities of plants and animals.
Wildlife of Arabuko-Sokoke
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest protects many endemic and near endemic species. The Clarke’s weaver is completely endemic to the forest, while the emonymous Sokoke scops owl, Sokoke pipit, and the Amani sunbird and spotted ground thrush are found only here and in a forest fragment in Tanzania.
The park adjoins Mida Creek, a mangrove forest that is an important shorebird wintering ground, protecting species such as the Terek sandpiper and the crab plover.
The endearing golden-rumped elephant shrew, an endemic elephant shrew the size of a rabbit, is the most noticeable of the park’s endemic mammals; the Sokoke bushy-tailed mongoose and Aders’s duiker (found only here and in Zanzibar) are more elusive.
The forest also has savannah elephants, African civets, as well as sokokes, baboons and vervet monkeys. The park is also recognised as an outstanding centre of amphibian diversity.
Central Island, also known as Crocodile Island, is a volcanic island located in the middle of Lake Turkana in Kenya. It is also the location of Central Island National Park, which is governed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
It is composed of more than a dozen craters and cones, three of which are filled by small lakes. The two largest lakes partially fill craters up to a kilometre wide and about 80 m deep, the floors of which are near sea level.
The highest point on the dominantly basaltic island reaches 550 m, about 190 m above the lake surface. An E-W-trending chain of small explosion craters cuts the eastern side of the 3-km-wide island. Several small islands to the SE represent partially submerged crater rims, and other cones and lava plugs lie beneath the lake surface near the island.
The youngest Central Islands tuffs and lavas may be as young as Holocene (Karson and Curtis, 1992). Fumarolic activity is concentrated along the NE-to-SE rim of the central crater, and sprays of sulfur from the fumaroles were observed by visitors in the 1930s. In 1974 intense emission of molten sulfur and steam clouds were seen from the mainland.
The Chyulu Hills is a mountain range in eastern Kenya. It forms a 100 kilometre long volcanic field in elongated NW-SE direction. Its highest peak is 2188 metres high.
The Chyulu Hills are located about 150 km east of the Kenya Rift. The hills consist of several hundred small flows and cones. Volcanism in the area started about 1.4 million years ago in the northern parts of the hills, and over time the volcanism propagated towards the southeast.
These volcanoes are still considered active, since their last two eruptions (Shaitani and Chainu) occurred in 1856. Within the hills is the Leviathan Cave, one of the longest lava tubes in the world.
Kibwezi town is located 30 km northeast of the Chyulu Hills.
The Chyulu Hills do not have any permanent rivers, but rainfall on hills feeds the Tsavo and Galana rivers and Mzima Springs on the surrounding plains.
Chyulu hills divide the Tsavo and Amboseli plains. The area is inhabited by Maasai and Kamba people.
Lower parts of the hills are composed of grassland and thicket, while above roughly 1800 metres is dominated by montane forest. The forest contains Neoboutonia macrocalyx, Tabernaemontana stapfiana, Prunus africana, Strombosia scheffleri, Cassipourea malonsana, Olea capensis and Ilex mitis. Some isolated parts are dominated by Erythrina abyssinica. Lower parts of the forest are dominated either by Juniperus procera or Commiphora baluensi.
Mammals found in the hills include eastern black rhinos, (Diceros bicornis michaeli), Cape buffaloes, bushbucks, elands, elephants, bushpigs, Masai giraffe, leopards, Masai lions, mountain reedbucks, steinbok, wildebeest and Grant’s zebras. East African cheetahs are found at the plains of Chyulu Hills. Various snakes inhabit the hills, like black mamba, puff adder and rock python.
There are various bird species on the hills, with some endemic races. Bird species include: Francolinus shelleyi, Pogonocichla stellata, Zoothera gurneyi, Bradypterus cinnamomeus, Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Polemaetus bellicosus and Cinnyricinclus femoralis.
There is wild khat growing on the hills, which is picked by local people. There is also some cultivation of khat around the hills. Khat from Chuylu hills is known as Chuylu, as opposed to Miraa, which is cultivated in the Meru County.
The Chyulu Hills National Park comprises the eastern flank of the hills and is operated by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The park was formed in 1983.
It forms a northwestern continuation of Tsavo West National Park. The western flank of the hills is covered by the West Chyulu Game Conservation owned by Maasai group ranches.
Potential threats to the ecosystem include poaching, overgrazing by growing population of Maasai herders and scarcity of water.