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Kinangop Plateau



The Kinangop Plateau lies between 2400 and 2700 meters 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 kilometers.

The Kinangop plateau is one of the remnant low-relief plains formed by protracted erosion, which features a raised elongated block of the earth’s crust lying between two faults and trough valleys, characterized by differing forms of savannas depending on rainfall, relief, soil ecology, 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 19th-century British ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe. 

Sharpe’s Longclaw is listed as Endangered on the I.U.C.N 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,  Mount Elgon, Timau in Mount Kenya, and the Uasin Gishu grasslands

Kinangop Plateau Birdwatching
Kinangop Plateau has more than 250 species of birds have been recorded  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 in Kinangop 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 Aberdare National Park. The landscape is generally flat and rises gently to the base of the mountains in the east.

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