Dakatcha is an extensive tract of relatively intact coastalwoodland, north of the Sabaki river and between 25 and 50 km inland from the coast. The vegetation is similar to that on the western boundary of Arabuko-Sokoke forest (IBA KE007). The landscape is gently undulating, with woodland dominated by Brachystegia spiciformis in the valleys and on the slopes, and Brachylaena huillensis–Cynometrawebberi associations on top of the low hills, on red Magarini sands. Much of the useful Brachylaena has already been cut, since it is in great demand as a long-burning, smokeless fuelwood and for carving. There has also been extensive clearance of the hilltops for pineapple cultivation. The IBA covers two, nearly adjoining tracts of woodland: one of c.25,000 ha, north-west of Baricho town, up to and beyond the Galana Ranch boundary, and extending to the base of Dakabuko Hill; and the other of 7,000 ha, north and west of Marafa town. These (along with another tract, Adu, covering 15,000 ha north and west of Adu village, c.22 km north of Marafa), have been proposed as Forest Reserves in the Kilifi District Forestry Master Plan. Galana Ranch is the property of the Agricultural Development Corporation.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. Dakatcha appears to hold substantial populations of Anthus sokokensis and Ploceus golandi. Both these species possibly breed here. This is the only site outside Arabuko-Sokoke where P. golandi is known to occur, although its breeding grounds are undiscovered. The remainder of the avifauna is typical of the northern East African coastal forests, with at least half of Kenya’s East African Coast biome species, though lacking some forest-specialist species found in nearby Arabuko-Sokoke.
Non-bird biodiversity: There is little information on other fauna: the mammal Loxodonta africana (EN) occurs, and Rhynchocyon chrysopygus (EN) is likely to. At least 11 plant taxa in this area are globally or nationally rare, including Monadenium invenustum, Pavetta linearifolia and Eulophia serrata.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Despite its importance as one of the last patches of relatively intact coastal woodland, Dakatcha has no formal protected status. It has already suffered some damage from uncontrolled logging and clearing, especially within the hilltop Cynometra–Brachylaena forest. A recent survey (in 2000) found evidence of destructive illegal tree-felling throughout the area, both of Brachystegia spiciformis and Brachylaena hulliensis Signs of illegal hunting and trapping were also evident. In the ongoing adjudication of land in the former Kilifi (now Malindi) District, this area should be gazetted as a Forest Reserve to protect its outstanding biological diversity, and allow sustainable use of its timber and other forest products. Without such protection, the woodland will continue to be degraded and eventually disappear. So far, insecurity has made the area inhospitable to settlers. When the proposed Dakatcha and Marafa reserves are gazetted, this should ideally be as one single forest, with a connecting corridor at least 1 km wide. If this corridor is not presently wooded, it can be allowed to regenerate gradually to a natural state. By permitting dispersal of birds and other animals between the blocks, a single site will be of considerably more conservation value than two separate ones.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Dakatcha Woodland. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 19/10/2021.