Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve

Site description (2016 baseline):

Site location and context
Mumoni Hill Forest emerges as 'inselberg' from arid scrub land vegetation at 600 m plains, rising to 1800 m above sea level.

The Climate is arid and semi arid with characteristic erratic and unreliable rainfall. Mean annual rainfall ranges from as low as 500 mm in the lowlands to over 1050 mm in the hilltop. The site experiences two rain seasons, long rains between March to June and Short rains between October and December.

Temperature and evaporation rates are generally high with February and September being the hottest months of the year. Minimum mean annual temperatures vary between 140 to 220 C while maximum mean annual temperatures vary between 260 C to 340C.

Key biodiversity
Its an important site for raptors, including Afro tropical and Palaerctic migrants. It hosts the following key species: Hinde's Pied- babbler and Martial Eagle (Vulnerable), Southern Banded Snake-eagle, Pallid Harrier and Crowned Eagle (Near Threatened). The site also holds 15 species of the Somali-Masai Biome, four species of Afro tropical highland and two species characteristic of the East African Coast . More than 200 species have been recorded at the site with a higher diversity in the low lands.

The Taita toad, Bufo taitanus, which was previously only known to be restricted to the Taita hills, and the Pancake Tortoise Malacochersus tornieri were recorded in 2006 surveys.

375 plant species were identified in 2006.

A total of 9 species of reptiles and amphibians have been recorded here too.

Habitat and land use
The vegetation is characterized by scrub lands and wooded bush land on the lowlands while the hilltop by upland dry forest ecosystems dominated by Drypetes, Combretum, Vepris and Croton species.

There are perennial springs that sustain the dry land human and animal life. During the early 19th century before forest gazzetment and environmental awareness, people had settled and cultivated at higher elevations growing crops such as yams.

Rock outcrops also form a small percentage of the habitat.

Its a gazetted government dry land indigenous forest with some pockets of exotic plantations.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
  1. Illegal harvesting of timber
  2. Charcoal burning
  3. Cattle grazing
  4. Fires
  5. Encroachment
  6. Debarking for medicinal purposes from Warburgia ugandensis and Pittospoum viridiflorum

Conservation responses/actions for key biodiversity
  1. The county government has employed some rangers who are patrolling the forest in collaboration with the KFS people.
  2. A site support group has been established by Nature Kenya with the help of the county government.

Protected areas
The entire hill/ Forest is under KFS

Land ownership
Its a gazetted government dry land indigenous forest with some pockets of exotic plantations.

Site access / Land-owner requests
Easily accessible with permission from the forest people.Local guides can be got at Musosya market -through the Mumoni Site Support Group or contact Nature Kenya for assistance.

The roads are passable during the dry season but in the rainy season, one needs a four wheel car and be cautious.

The County Goverment of Kitui, under the directorate of Tourism and Forestry should be acknowledged for having given Nature Kenya a contract to develop and market the site as a key birding destination and later as an IBA. Also for having funded OCA for the groups, capacity building workshops and co-ordinated the various stakeholders during the launch of the project that lead to the establishment of the SSG and holding of the 2nd IBA-NLC of 2016  meeting that qualified the site as an IBA.

We would also like to thank the National Museums of Kenya, Ornithology section for having joined Nature Kenya in the 2016 Resurveys that let to the qualification of the site as an IBA.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mumoni Hill Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 25/02/2024.