Mwea National Reserve

Country/territory: Kenya

IBA criteria met: A1, A2 (1999)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 4,200 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2021 unfavourable very high high
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2001 baseline)
Mwea National Reserve contains gently rolling AcaciaCommiphora bushland on the north shore of the Kamburu Reservoir, at the confluence of the Tana and Thiba rivers, 100 km north-west of Nairobi. This small reserve lies just east of Masinga Reservoir (IBA KE032). Within its borders are 700 ha (including two small islands) of the 1,500 ha Kamburu Dam. The reserve was created in 1975 as a wildlife sanctuary, and is owned by the Mbeere County Council (pending District confirmation) and managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service. The area is semi-arid with an annual rainfall of between 250 and 500 mm. Thick bush (dominated by Acacia mellifera, with Grewia, Sesbania, Cassia and A. brevispica, as well as some Lantana) and scattered trees, including baobab Adansonia digitata, line the waterfront. This thins out further up the slope, with a mixture of A. mellifera and Commiphora species and some open glades. Richer scrub and woodland line seasonal rivers and streams. Sesbania forms a broad, fairly dense cover on flood-plains, especially the northern part of the Thiba. The reserve is essentially undeveloped. There is a campsite and c.95 km of rough roads, but no accommodation.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for key species. This is one of only two protected area in which the globally threatened Turdoides hindei, a restricted-range Kenya endemic, is known to occur. The babblers occur only in the denser bushland along watercourses, and at relatively low densities (1.3 birds/km of watercourse; estimated total population c.50 birds in 15 groups). This is also a rich locality for birds generally, especially birds of prey, and is close to the Mwea rice growing area which attracts a large number of waterbirds and shorebirds. Ardeola idae is an uncommon non-breeding visitor from May to October. Mwea holds at least 14 of Kenya’s 94 Somali–Masai biome species, and more are likely to be added in future. Two species rarely recorded in Kenya, Scotopelia peli (regionally threatened) and Gorsachius leuconotus, occur here in riverine woodland. Other regionally threatened species include Anhinga rufa, which nests on Masinga Reservoir to the west, and Polemaetus bellicosus, the status of which is unknown.

Non-bird biodiversity: Large and small herbivores are numerous, including Loxodonta africana (EN). Crocodylus niloticus and Hippopotamus amphibius occur in the dam.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2024) Important Bird Area factsheet: Mwea National Reserve. Downloaded from on 01/03/2024.