Size 1,175,000 ha
Checklist Up to 500 Species
Location Coast, Eastern
Area Altitude 300–910 m
Located app. 333 km from Nairobi, this savannah National Park lies in low, semi-arid country at the eastern edge of the inland plateau, north of the main Mombasa– Nairobi road and railway. This has made it a very popular safari destination world over. Tsavo East National Park is one of the oldest National Parks in Kenya after being established in April 1948 and yet together with Tsavo West, make the biggest game reserve in the world with 40% of the total area of all Kenyan National Parks.
Much of the park is level, open country, with scattered rocky outcrops. The Yatta Plateau (world's largest lava flow), a long, flat-topped lava ridge, runs along the western boundary, and beneath it flows the Athi river; this joins the Tsavo river to become the Galana river, a permanent stream that cuts right across the park. The seasonal Tiva and Voi rivers are important features of the northern and southern sectors, respectively. Along the rivers is a narrow fringe of woodland and thicket, dominated by Acacia elatior, the Doum palm Hyphaene compressa and the shrub Suaeda monoica. The northern part of the park is predominantly more-or-less dense Acacia–Commiphora woodland. South of the Galana, common shrubs include species of Premna, Bauhinia and Sericocomopsis, and scattered trees such as Delonix elata and Melia volkensii. The Yatta Plateau has a cover of dense bushland, with stands of baobab Adansonia digitata. There are scattered seasonal pools, swamps and dams, but relatively few sources of permanent water.
Birds of Tsavo East National Park
Tsavo East National Park has a prolific birdlife with an astounding checklist of up 500 species on record. The Park lies within the migratory routes of palearctic migrants which qualifies it an important spot for these species especially the rarely seen Sooty and Eleonora’s Falcons.
The park is home to 61 of the 94 species of the Somali-Masai biome that occur in Kenya. Four globally threatened species namely; Taita Thrush, Friedmann’s Lark, Lesser Kestrel and Basra Reed Warbler along with seven regionally threatened species namely; African Finfoot, African Darter, Great egret, Saddle-billed Stork, White-headed Vulture, Martial Eagle, and Violet Wood Hoopoe have been recorded at this site.
Tsavo East National Park holds substantial populations of a diversity of other wildlife, from large and small mammals to amphibians, reptiles, rich flora, to insects just to mention but a few.
Hamerkop (Scopus umbretta)
This sedentary medium-sized wading bird of 56 cm long, weighing 470 gm is know to occur from Africa to coastal southwest Arabia wetlands.
Hamerkops feed during the day, the main diet consists of amphibians and fish. Sometimes, they eat shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, shuffling one foot at a time on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding.
Hamerkops, of all birds make the biggest nest in the trees, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.
They lay 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. The chicks leave the nest at 44 to 50 days.
In culture, the bird is associated to bad omen; Some cultures in Uganda believe, when the bird patches on ones house then they are likely to be struck by lightening. In some places, when it calls over the house, people know that someone close to them has died. The Kalahari Bushmen believe that the inimical god Khauna would not like anyone to kill a Hamerkop. According to an old Malagasy belief, anyone who destroys its nest will get leprosy, and a Malagasy poem calls it an "evil bird". Such beliefs have given the bird some protection.