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Kinangop Plateau



The Kinangop Plateau lies between 2400 and 2700m above sea level and is bounded by the Aberdares Mountains to the east and a steep scarp dropping into the Rift valley to the west.

Geologically recent tectonic events created the Great Rift Valley and associated high mountains of Mount Kenya and the Aberdares Ranges. The entire Kinangop plateau is about 770 square kilometer, The Kinangop is one of the remnant peneplained plateaux, which features horst blocks and trough valleys, characterized by differing forms of savannahs depending on rainfall, relief, edaphic conditions and topography.

Endemic Sharpe’s Longclaw

The Kinangop plateau shelter Sharpe’s Longclaw a globally threatened grassland-specialist bird and numerous other animals and plants endemic to the mountain grasslands of Kenya and northern Tanzania. Such as Kenya Horned Viper, Kinangop Puddle Frog, and Golden Toad. They are monogamous, very sedentary species, limited to high altitude, open, short grasslands between 1850 -3400 meters

The Kikuyu people call it “gathonjo ka werũ-ini,” meaning “a weaver-like bird that lives only in the grasslands”. The English name honors a 19th-century British ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe. Sharpe’s Longclaw is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species because of the very rapid and continuing reduction in the extent and quality of its habitat.

Estimates record says that only 10,000 and 19,000 individuals of Sharpe’s Longclaw are roaming in the wild. Most of the population is restricted to three main locations: Kinangop Plateau, Mau Narok, and the Uasin Gishu grasslands

Kinangop Plateau Birdwatching
More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the grasslands including the localized;

  • Levaillant’s Cisticola
  • Wing snapping Cisticola
  • Hunter’s Cisticola
  • Lesser Jacana,
  • Long tailed Widow bird
  • Jackson’s Widow bird
  • Red collared Widowbird
  • African Snipe
  • Yellow crowned Canary

Initially, the whole Kinangop plateau was covered with almost treeless, tussocky grassland, including many tussock bogs in swampy valleys. Nonetheless, grassland habitat has been greatly modified within the last 40 years in the plateau as a result of changes in land tenure and agricultural practices; which includes dairy farming, horticultural farming, and sheep farming and planting of exotic tree species, such as eucalyptus, cypress, and grevillea

Rainfall averages around 1000mm per year and peaks during April–May, and October but the southern part of the plateau is wetter than the north, which lies in the rain shadow of the Aberdares National Park. The landscape is generally flat and rises gently to the base of the mountains in the east.

The area is bisected by valleys bearing streams, which flow into the Malewa and Karati Rivers which then flow into Lake Naivasha