Ruma National Park was first gazetted in 1966, as Lambwe Valley Game Reserve, and acquired National Park status in 1983. It is situated 10 km east of Lake Victoria in western Kenya, south-west of Homa Bay and east of the Gembe and Gwasi Hills. It lies on the flat floor of the Lambwe valley, bordered by the Kanyamaa escarpment to the south-east. The terrain is mainly rolling grassland, with tracts of open woodland and thickets dominated by species of Acacia and Balanites. The soils are largely ‘black cotton’ clay. The surrounding area is settled, with a mix of small-scale cultivation and grassy pastureland.
Ruma is the only protected area in Kenya where Hirundo atrocaerulea, a scarce intra-African migrant, is regularly recorded. Hirundo atrocaerulea arrive in Kenya from the breeding grounds in southern Tanzania around April and depart in September. They depend on moist grassland for feeding and roosting (see also IBA KE057). There have been several recent records of this swallow within the park, but its status is uncertain. Cisticola eximius, a species thought to be extinct in Kenya, has also recently been rediscovered in Ruma.
Non-bird biodiversity: Little is known about the fauna and flora.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Ruma represents a valuable island of natural habitat in a sea of human settlement. The surrounding population density is high, but people and their livestock avoid the Ruma area because of the presence of tsetse fly. Wildlife poaching along the boundaries has been reported in the past. A recent (1996), brief survey found no Hirundo atrocaerulea at the site, but more recent records show that the species still uses this site. More intensive work is needed to determine the status of H. atrocaerulea, and a proper ecological study should be made of the birds and their behaviour.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ruma National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 27/01/2020.