Hells Gate National Park This is an IBA in danger! 

Country/territory: Kenya

IBA Criteria met: (2014)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 68 ha

Protection status:

Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2019 very high very unfavourable medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
It lies within the Eco-Climatic zone IV that is described as environmentally fragile and prone to land degradation. Is situated in the floor of the great Rift Valley. Its bound to the south east by Longonot Mountains.  To the east is the Kinangop Plateau, while Eburru volcanic pile flanks the western side of the lake basin. The general topography of the area is characterised by a wide range of features associated with volcanic activity. They include craters, remnants of pre-existing craters, fault scarps, fissures and stem jets.

The geology is dominated by the formation of the great rift valley when the volcanic material of pleistocene Age was extruded forming the base material. Recent lava material is still visible on the surface towards the south of Olkaria field.

The soils are of volcanic origin, mainly mixed assemblages of acid and basic lava. The soils are very porous resulting in the aridity of the land.

The site experiences a double rain shadow effect from the west and east flanking escarpments (Mau and Aberdare Range/Kinangop respectively).

Key biodiversity

There are over 100 bird species recorded inside the park. The park contains important nesting habitat for Verreaux's Eagle, Augur Buzzard, Wailing Cisticola, Lanner Falcon, Nyanza, Mottled and Horus Swifts, Speckled Pigeons, Mackinder's and Spotted Eagle Owls, White -fronted Bee-eaters,Rock Martins, Schalow's Wheatear, Anteater Chat and Red-winged Starlings.

The Park contains Kenya's only nationally protected nesting colony of the Endangered Ruppell's Vultures Gyps rueppellii that typically contains 19 nests per year. 

Other globally listed species occurring in the park include:
  • White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus, Endangered
  • Grey-crested Helmetshrike Prionops poliolophus, Near Threatened.
The Hunter's Sunbird, Purple Grenadier, Streaky Seedeater, Brown Parisoma and the Baglafecht Weaver fall under the biome restricted species.

During 1999-2002 the park was the only national release site for a project involving the reintroduction of the Bearded Vulture or Lammergeyer, which is almost extinct in Kenya. It remains the only site in the country with a Vulture feeding restaurant and adjacent viewer/photographers blind.

Large to medium sized mammals recorded in the park include:
  • Lion
  • Wild dog
  • Cheetah
  • Leopard
  • Serval
  • Bat-eared fox
  • Spotted hyena
  • Striped hyena
  • African buffalo
  • Zebra
  • Eland
  • Impala
  • Hartebeest
  • Thompson's gazelle
  • Olive baboon
  • Chanler's mountain reedbuck
  • Klipspringer

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Hells Gate National Park. Downloaded from on 30/10/2020.