SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE
our stay in
we would start early morning say at we could pass what is Kivunoni Gate now and to be at Giriama Point to watch the sunrise from there.
This scene has been always a rather spectacular one when the sun disk
rose out of
On one occasion we choose the southern approach to Shimba Hills and entered what is now the Kidongo Gate. On the way there we had to cross a deep stream near Manyatte village driving over a “bridge” consisting of two steel I-beams placed apart only. This was a scary experience not to be repeated ever after. Once we made a memorable visit to Sheldrick’s Falls where we enjoyed cool and deep shadows after a long walk there under beating and hot sunshine. We really had mulled over whether to get out to the scorching sun having to return to our cars.
Almost 35 years later we have visited the Shimba Hills in a rented car but the flora has changed tremendously since. Now SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE has two entrance gates Kivunoni (at north) and Kidongo (at south) and any visitor has to pay an entrance fee and extra for the car cum driver too. The Reserve is fenced in to a greater extend and earthen roadways were well maintained. However, bushes and trees grew immensely in the 35 years and the brushwood is so dense that one can hardly see through now. This a good moment to report more about National Reserve and the initiatives of SHIMBA SUPPORT GROUP to improve the gate revenues that would enable a better infrastructure maintenance and a proper wildlife management.
The sights of Shimba Hills elephants: a bull with both tusks at left, with one only at right and an encounter nearby road at centre.
About the Conservation Area
The CONSERVATION AREA (comprising both the Shimba Hills National Reserve and the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary) was officially announced in 1968. Since that time it has been jointly managed by the Forestry Department and the authority of National Wildlife Conservation that is known as the Kenya Wildlife Service today. The Reserve covers about 250km² and its highest point is Pengo Hill rising to some 500m above sea level.
The SHIMBA HILLS emerged as a part of the coastal ranges that emerge intermittently along the East African littoral caused by a lifting process during the Pliocene (between 2 and 10 million years ago). The area is composed of sedimentary rocks of the Duruma Sandstone series. The soil is classified as the Shimba Grit and the Mazeras Sandstone from the Upper Triassic Age (200 million years ago). The fertility status is poor to very poor due to the sandy topsoil, low organic matter content and excessive leaching. Generally they are low in all available nutrients, and critically deficient in phosphorus. Therefore, the area is marginally agricultural land, and setting it aside for wildlife and forest conservation would be practical and make it more profitable.
The CLIMATE of the area is humid semi hot equatorial to dry semi hot tropical and TEMPERATURES range from about 19ºC to 36ºC. The coldest months are July and August and the hottest temperatures get to just before long rains break in February and March. The northeast trade winds ("kaskazi") dominate from November and March, and the southeasterly trade winds ("kuzi") take over from April through August. The ANNUAL RAINFALL varies between 500 and 1,500mm. The wettest months last from April to July, when over half of the total yearly rainfall falls. The period from August to December is moist, with a slight increase of rainfall in October/November. The driest months are January and February. The mean relative HUMIDITY is about 80%, except in the dry season from January to March. Potential EVAPORATION varies with the cloud cover, but is about 2,000 mm. Thus, except during the wet season, the evaporation/transpiration exceeds the precipitation. There is an annual average of SUNSHINE of 8.8 hours daily. The brightest month is February, and the month with the least sunshine is May.
Notes on Mwele Mdogo Hills History
The forested knoll known as Mwele Mdogo is in the south-western corner of the Shimba Hills National Reserve. Mwele Mdogo knoll was used as a military stockade end observation post during time of some thirty-five years. Several bloody end violent actions were fought there, but today visitors may find it difficult to visualize this when they picnic or bird watch in the shades of one of
For a few years in
early 20th century Mwele Mdogo benefited from peace as the forest
undergrowth picked up. But not for too long when the British troops
refortified Mwele Mdogo
as the World War broke out in August 1914. Mburak
lived in exile in
Now Mwele Mdogo is covered with magnificent stands of tropical rainforest that conceals any evidence of British military involvement here. Nevertheless, many potsherds lie scattered on the forest floor and some almost undisturbed hideout pits of Mburak’s followers could be found during short walk through shrubs and trees disclosing signs of earlier conflicts.
About the Animal Life in the Conservation Area
The recently established SHIMBA SUPPORT GROUP (SSG) aims to enhance game viewing in the Reserve and to facilitate the importation of new mammal species, mainly antelope such as Eland, Topi (alias Lyre antelope), Impala and Reedbuck. The removal of some exotic plants a large chunk of territorial grassland would allow better viewing of Sable antelopes. At present one finds some 25 mammals in the Reserve among these Elephants and indigenous Sable and Shirran antelopes. The bird watchers counted about 66 birds species and the rare Palm Nut vulture. A number of butterflies some particularly big ones found in forests and on grassland of the Shimba Hills.
Shimba Hills are
probably the second richest place for butterflies in
Two scenery views of the Sheldrick Falls environs.
The highlight of a butterfly-spotting safari would be to stop at Makadara Picnic Site. Walking along the forest road one would see “Coast Glider” and Euptera, beautiful gliding butterflies perched in forest’s sunny spots. The figs lying on the forest floor attract the “Forester” butterflies sitting with their jewel-like wings open alongside the roadside. Pengo Hill has a special little orange “Yellow Zulu” living on the algae on exposed sun-facing black granite rocks. Some of the local villagers, along the Reserve periphery, have organized themselves to breed butterflies to pupae
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If you ever come to visit the South Coast of Mombasa do not miss to visit SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL
RESERVE. You can acquire the SSG Membership too by contacting SHIMBA SUPPROTING GROUP c/o Baobab Trust,
Berger KENYA & NORDTANSANIA, Reisebuch; Iwanowski’s Reisebuchverlag -
Auflage 2000, ISBN 3-923975-25-2.
2. Newsletters No. 5
(May 2002), No.6 (August 2002) and No. 7 (December 2002). SHIMBA SUPPORT
GROUP c/o Baobab Trust,
3. For more
information and data see at URL: http://www.juliahailes.com and go
to web-pages titled <Background>,
<Objectives> and < Trustees>.