Imenti Forest is a 10-minute drive from Meru town, a highway passes through it to Nanyuki, The forest is a breeding site for elephants, they prefer the forest because it has sticky mud ideal for scrubbing the newborn’s skins to prevent insect bites. Imenti is a stupendous forest of great trees festooned with hanging mosses, beard lichens, epiphytic orchids, and ferns. Birding in the Imenti forest is done while walking along the road, few stops have interesting bird species. The only movement is the occasional sound of a bird taking off from a tree branch above or a squirrel darting up a nearby trunk. A walk through this forest leads to a definite rendezvous with the famous Meru Oak tree. Among all other trees, it stands out for its voluminous and stunningly straight trunk and branches. The oak tree is famous among locals as King Muuru (king of Meru oaks). This name is associated with its old age. King Muuru is estimated to be over 360 years old and is arguably the oldest tree in the Meru region. The oak tree has a base diameter of 2.7 meters. It takes seven adults holding their hands in a circle to stand around the tree. Hidden under the canopy of the huge and indigenous Imenti Forest is the once-revered sacred Lake Nkunga. The lake was formed as a result of volcanic action that left a bowl-shaped crater in the forest. The volcanic bowl has since filled with rainwater to form the lake. The panoramic Crater Lake has been protected by the people for decades. The lake was only accessible to the traditional rainmakers when they went to appease the gods. Legends and myths hold that the water mass was the home of a mystical seven-headed dragon ‘Nkunga’, which could swallow whoever dared go anywhere near the lake. The dragon was believed to guard the water source and help keep the forest safe from deforestation. It is also a source of water and fish for the local community. The mouth of Nkunga is said to have been at a nearby hill, Maitei, with its body stretching underground through the lake to the Nyambene Hills. Lake Nkunga is surrounded by a thick forest on its edges, punctuated with natural springs
Imenti Forest has been in the news recently due to the sighting of Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle, which resembles a mini African Crowned Eagle. The Cassin’s Hawk-Eagle is a true forest species, hunting through the canopy in and out of dappled sunlight, using foliage and the dark and light of the forest to hunt its prey. Most of its habits are little known as it is an elusive bird. It is thought to hunt tree squirrels and small to medium forest mammals. It is listed as rare to uncommon, and it is generally associated with the rain forests of the Congo Basin from Nigeria to western Uganda, Liberia to Togo, and more recently western Tanzania In Kenya, it has countable sightings, with Imenti forest leading in the records, the other area being Mount Elgon
Common Birds Imenti Forest; Mountain Buzzard, African Crowned Eagle, Scarce Swift, Hartlaub’s Turaco, White-eared Barbet, Mustached Green Tinkerbird, Montane Oriole, African Green Ibis, Sharpe’s Starling, Abbott’s Starling, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Jackson’s Francolin, Tacazze Sunbird, Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird, Vanga Flycatcher.