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CHECKLIST

SAMBURU, BUFFALO SPRINGS, SHABA

KENYA
LOCALE

Area (ha):53,500
Altitude (m):1000
# Species*:307
# Excl Vagrants*:306
# Endemics*:1
# Near Endemics*:3
Species/100 ha*:0.6
*Based on partial or incomplete data.
Habitat: Semi-arid Grassland, riverine forest, woodland

ABOUT THE BIRDING

Samburu and Buffalo Springs were once a single reserve and are now separated only by the Ewaso Nyiro River. Shaba is a short distance east. The birds and mammals found in the 3 reserves are similar, though with a few differences due to the somewhat different habitat in each. All three are on the edge of the northern frontier of Kenya and hence are more arid than farther south.

The habitat at Samburu is semi-arid shrubby grassland, riverine forest, and woodland. Samburu is more rugged than the other two reserves, with rocky outcrops interspersed among the rolling hills. Buffalo Springs features similar habitat to Samburu but includes a large freshwater spring that attracts birds and mammals, especially during dry season. It's less hilly and more open than Samburu with stands of Doum Palm, gently rolling savanna, and Acacia woodland along the rivers. Shaba is larger than the other two reserves and features a volcanic cone as well as some swamp land. Shaba is wetter than the other reserves and is only accessible during rainy season by 4-wheel-drive.

Several endemic and range-restricted birds are best found in this area, notably Williams's Lark, a rare endemic found only in Shaba, Brown-tailed Apalis, a likely future split from Yellow-breasted Apalis, and a number of northern arid country specialties such as Somali Ostrich, Bristle-crowned Starling, Shining Sunbird, Donaldson-Smith's Sparrow-Weaver, and Red-rumped (Black-cheeked) Waxbill.

The area is also home to several mammals not seen farther south. These are Gerenuk, a strange long-necked antelope that stands on its hind-legs to reach branches beyond the reach of other antelopes, the highly endangered Grevy's Zebra, a beautiful zebra with narrows stripes than Common Zebra, and Reticulated Giraffe, which has more clearly defined lines on its body pattern than the more common Masai Giraffe. There are also Beisa Oryx in the drier parts of the reserves as well as lions, cheetahs, leopards, and many more widely distributed mammals in the reserves.

LOCATION OF SITE

Samburu, Buffalo Springs, and Shaba are located in close proximity to each other. Samburu and Buffalo Springs are contiguous and were once a single reserve. Shaba is a short drive to the east. All reserves are about 343 km (6 hours) north of Nairobi. They are reached via Isolo and Archer's Post.