This area comprises the sandbanks, mudbanks, dunes and freshwater pools and marshes at the mouth of the Sabaki, Kenya’s second-longest river, c.5 km north of Malindi town, between the Malindi–Mambrui road bridge and the sea. The state and size of the estuary vary seasonally, depending on river flows. Just north and south of the river mouth are grassy dunes that conceal permanent or temporary pools of freshwater.
See Box for key species. This site hosts large visiting flocks of Glareola ocularis (regularly up to 2,500, with a maximum of 9,000–10,000 in 1978), and is an important resting, roosting and feeding ground for gulls and terns. Good numbers of Palearctic shorebirds also occur, and Limicola falcinellus, a very uncommon bird in Kenya, winters here in flocks of up to 80. The Near Threatened, restricted-range Anthus melindae is resident in and around the grassy dunes. Regionally threatened species include Casmerodius albus (usually present in small numbers) and Rynchops flavirostris (a regular visitor, mainly August–March).
Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The estuary is unprotected, and heavily used and disturbed by people Recently, off-road vehicles driven along the beach from Malindi have caused damage to dune vegetation and (often intentional) disturbance of roosting or foraging waterbirds. The livelihood of the local residents (and that of many of the waterbirds) depends on the fishery, but this resource appears to be over-exploited. Soil erosion in the river’s catchment is increasing silt loads in the Sabaki, but the effect of this on the estuary’s ecology is unknown. The river mouth is a great attraction to birdwatchers. There have been serious problems with security in the past, but it nonetheless could make an outstanding, locally managed bird sanctuary. Moi University has constructed a research centre on the south bank, between the road bridge and the river mouth.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sabaki River Mouth. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 22/02/2020.