Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve is a 420 kilometers square coastal forest in Kenya. Arabuko Forest is the largest fragment of the East African coastal forest ecosystem which one time extended from Somalia to Mozambique
Arabuko Sokoke forest has three main forest types: – these include the mixed forest in the east, on grey sands. This habitat is relatively dense, tall, and undifferentiated, with a diversity of tree species. Characteristic trees include Combretum, Drypetes, Afzelia, Dialium, Hymenaea, and Manilkara The Brachystegia woodland runs in a strip through the approximate center of the forest, on white, very infertile soil. This relatively open habitat is dominated by Brachystegia. In the west, on red Magarini sands, is Cynometra forest and thicket, dominated by Cynometra with Manilkara, and Brachylaena, this tree, much in demand for the carving trade, has been almost logged out from much of the forest.) The transition between white and red soil is sudden and marked by a chain of seasonal ponds. There are two areas of relatively tall Cynometra forest, with a canopy height of up to 20 meters, in the north and the South of this zone. Between these is a lower, scrubbier formation of intermediate Cynometra with a canopy height of 7-8 meters. The dry north-western part of the Reserve is covered by a low, dense, and often almost impenetrable Cynometra thicket (2,300 hectares), with the canopy no more than 5 meters high.
Arabuko-Sokoke forest is rich in wildlife; the forest has 40 recorded mammal species some of which are rare, mostly among the fauna. Six taxa of butterflies endemic to the East African coast are present, as well as three rare, near-endemic mammals: Golden-rumped Elephant shrew, Ader’s Duiker (found only in Sokoke and Zanzibar), and the distinctive Sokoke bushy-tailed Mongoose. There is also a population of the African Elephant, and African Golden Cat, rare in Kenya occurs. Unusual reptiles include the Green Keel-bellied Lizard, and the forest is exceptionally rich in amphibians, including coastal endemics such as Bunty’s Dwarf Toad.
There are two wet seasons in Arabuko Sokoke Forest: April-June (long rains) and November-December (short rains). The other months will be usually hot and dry. Annual rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm in the east to 600 mm in the northwest
Birdwatching Arabuko Sokoke
Arabuko Forest is a famous and must-visit destination in the Kenya coastal birding circuit, the location, plentiful birds, and accessibility, make it one of the most visited forests in East Coast Kenya. Birdwatching in Arabuko Sokoke is mainly conducted on foot, driving to several birding hotspots, and then walking starts as you search for the area specialties. To achieve and see most of the Arabuko forest biodiversity it is advisable to start the tour early when the birds are active
Arabuko-Sokoke has been ranked globally as the second most important forest for bird conservation in the African continent. Six globally threatened bird species, and five out of the seven species in the East African Coastal forests endemic bird area, occur. Clarke’s Weaver, or Kilifi Weaver an endemic bird in Kenya is known only from Arabuko-Sokoke and the little-studied Dakatcha woodlands, while the Sokoke Scops Owl is only known from this forest and one other site in north-east Tanzania. There are over 270 species of birds recorded in the Arabuko forest, including 25 of Kenya’s 30 African East Coast biome species In terms of avians the area has the Southern Banded Snake Eagle, and Fischer’s Turaco, which are near threatened and is resident in the forest, Sokoke Scops Owl and Spotted Ground Thrush are Endangered, the Sokoke Pipit, East Coast Akalat, Amani Sunbird, Plain-backed Sunbird, and Clarke’s Weaver are vulnerable while Ayres’s Hawk-Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, African Pitta, Scaly Babbler and are regionally threatened.