Kakamega Forest Birding Tour | Birdwatching Safaris | Birds of Kakamega Reserve Kenya | Kenya Important Bird Areas
Kakamega, a mid-altitude tropical rainforest which was first gazetted as Trust Forest in 1933, lies in the Lake Victoria catchment, 40 km north of Kisumu, and just east of the Nandi Escarpment forming the edge of the central highlands.
The Forest is generally considered the eastern-most remnant of the lowland Congo rainforest of Central Africa since it is dominated by Central African species of flora and fauna. This old and impressive forest can be easily described as a hardwood forest with swamps and rivers, glades and shallow forest around the edges.
The climate is generally wet with 2,000 mm of rainfall/year with the long rains months being April to May and August to September as the short rains months. January and February are the driest months with July being slightly dry, generally, the temperature is fairly constant all year with mean daily minimums of about 11 c and mainly daily maximums of about 26 c.
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.
Birds of Kakamega Forest of Kenya
Kakamega Forest’s avifauna is not only nationally well known, rich, unusual in its composition, fascinating and unique combination with the dominant central African lowland species alongside highland species, but also continentally. It’s 194 forest-dependent species which include; 40 of the 43 Guinea-Congo Forest and 33 of the 70 Afrotropical Highlands biome species that occur in Kenya, rank the highest of any Kenyan forest and it is probable that at least 45 of the birds of Kenya are confined to this area in the country.
Not only does Kakamega have two globally threatened species, Chapin’s Flycatcher and Turner’s Eremomela, but also the only hope for the world’s smartest bird- the African Grey Parrot which is expected to be less than 10 individuals in Kenya. At least 16 regionally threatened bird species, among which include Indicator exilis, Indicator conirostris, Prodotiscus insignis, Phyllastrephus baumanni, Circaetus cinerascens, Hieraaetus ayresii, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Tyto capensis, Glaucidium tephronotum, Kakamega poliothorax, Sheppardia polioptera, Hyliota australis, Dyaphorophyia concreta, Campephaga quiscalina, and Euplectes hartlaubi occur in Kakamega but nowhere else in Kenya. The grassy glades have their own distinctive avifauna, with many moist-grassland species that are now rare elsewhere in western Kenya.
Several West African forest mammals occur, including Potamogale velox. 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.