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+254 735 204 519 info@conquestadventures.co.ke

Tana River Primate Reserve

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The Tana River Primate Reserve locally known as Mchelelo was established in 1976 to protect some of the best remaining forest along the Tana River together with significant portions of the populations of the Tana River Red Colobus and the Tana River Crested Mangabey

Tana River Primate Reserve Birdwatching

Tana River Primate Reserve comprises the lowland evergreen forests of Wenje, Kipende, and Kimbu. The forest patches along the lower Tana River are remnants of a vast tropical forest that extended from the East Coast of Africa. The Tana Forest is much the same as the Kakamega forest in Kenya as both are rich in biodiversity and have a high level of endemism making the area an important conservation site for endemic and unique species that occur here. There are about 71 distinct forests, ranging in size from 1-1,100 hectares and covering around 3,700 hectares combined. The diverse habitats range from riparian forest, woodland, grassland, and bushland to different forms of wetlands (Ox-bow lakes, ponds, and marshes)

The forests lie on both banks of the Tana River. Of the 71 patches, 16 (covering 1,000 hectares) fall within the 17,100 hectares Tana River Primate National Reserve (which extends for about 36 kilometers along the river’s present course. The Tana River Primate Reserve locally known as Mchelelo was established in 1976 to protect some of the best-remaining forests along the Tana River together with significant portions of the populations of the Tana River Red Colobus (specialized feeders, their stomachs can only digest leaves) and the Tana River Crested Mangabey (ground feeders) They are endemic to the patches of forest along the floodplain of the lower Tana River. These are two of Kenya’s rarest mammals and they live in one of the most complex, unique, and rare habitats in East Africa. Both the Red Colobus and the Crested Mangabey are flagship species for the conservation of this Primate Reserve

Tana River is Kenya’s longest river. It rises in the highlands of the Aberdare Ranges and Mount Kenya, flows through an arid floodplain between Garissa and Garsen, and enters the Indian Ocean at Kipini, North of Malindi through a huge delta. The lower Tana River is marked by a broad floodplain that varies from 1 to 6 Kilometers in width and is covered by alluvial sediments deposited during floods. The floodplain is largely grass-cover but there are numerous patches of bushland, woodland, and forest. The Tana riverine forests are also home to the Pokomo people, who do farming on the river banks. They use mainly the ox-bows, growing rice next to the water and maize further back. The forest is exploited by them for fuel wood, timber, and traditional medicines.  The climate of the lower Tana River is generally hot and dry. The climate is intermediate between the humid coastal biome and semi-arid surroundings. The mean monthly maximum daily temperature along the lower Tana River ranges from about 30 – 38°C while meaning monthly minimum daily temperature ranges from approximately 17 – 25°C. Temperatures are highest from January – February and lowest from May – July.


Endemic Primates

Tana River Red Colobus

The endangered, Tana River Red Colobus is one of 14 separate species of Colobus, distributed across Africa. A relatively large member of the Colobus family, the Tana River Red Colobus is an elusive and exclusively arboreal and diurnal monkey, that lives in the evergreen closed canopy of the gallery forest, where it subsists on young leaves, fruit, and flowers.

Tana River Crested Mangabey

One of four types of River Mangabeys found in Africa, the Tana River Crested Mangabey lives in the riverine forests that border the Tana River. With a yellow-brown back, white underparts, and dark grey hands, feet, and tail, the crested mangabey gets its name from the conspicuous crest on its forehead. diurnal, arboreal, but mostly terrestrial, the mangabey lives in large social groups. The forest also supports a rich array of mammals, a high number of reptiles and amphibian species, as well as several rare plants, some of which are unique to this area.

Tana River Primate BirdsOpen-billed Stork, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Pale Batis, Eastern Black-headed Batis, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Retz’s Helmetshrike, Terrestrial Brownbul, Northern Brownbul, Yellow Flycatcher, Scaly Babbler, Red-tailed Ant Thrush, Pygmy Goose, Fire-fronted Bishop, Kenya Crested  Guineafowl, Green Malkoha, Thick-billed Cuckoo, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Pale Prinia, Siffling Cisticola, Slender-tailed Nightjar, Eastern Olive Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Zanzibar Boubou, Mombasa Woodpecker, Bat Hawk, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Magpie Starling, Ethiopian Swallow, Gorgeous Bushshrike, Black-throated Seedeater.

eBird Hotspot link

Tana River Primate Photos