SHIMBA HILLS NATIONAL RESERVE RESTOCKED WITH WILDLIFE
Kenya Wildlife Service has started restocking Shimba Hills National Reserve with various wild animals to improve biodiversity and enhance tourist experience.
The restocking operation funded by the Eden Wildlife Trust to the tune of Kshs.2, 750,000.00 is one of the many projects the UK charitable outfit for the conservation of wildlife has funded. The translocation of wild animals from Tsavo East National Park over a 150 km distance to one of Kenya’s treasured coastal rainforests includes 100 impalas, 15 giraffes and 50 kongoni.
The restocking is meant to attract more visitors not just to the Shimba Hills National Reserve but also to the Mwaluganje Elephant Community Sanctuary. The grazing area in Shimba Hills ecosystem has been under- utilised due to a low number of mammals. Many tourists to Shimba Hills expect to see not only a beautiful coastal rain forest but also a variety of wildlife but get disappointed by limited game viewing. The restocking is meant to address this challenge. The reserve is the only place in Kenya with the magnificent but endangered population of the Sable antelope. Other wild animals found in the park include elephants, Columbus monkeys, the leopard, serval cats and hyenas.
Shimba Hills located 35 km south west of Mombasa via the Likoni Ferry offers plentiful panoramic picnic and observation points: Makadara Picnic site, Giriama Point, Ocean View Point, Pengo Hill Lookout and Elephant Lookout. The Shimba Hills are cloaked in a mantle of ancient forests, one of the largest contiguous pieces in East Africa. Over a thousand species of plants have been recorded, a fourth of them endemic to the area.
The ecosystems’ close proximity to the coast means it has the potential to attract large numbers of visitors on short excursions from the coast to see elephants. The Shimba Hills are regarded as one of the most diverse forested ecosystems in the Coastal Region as about 15 percent of the rare plants in Shimba Hills are coastal endemic and over 50 per cent of the 159 rare plant species known to occur in Kenya are found in the ecosystem.
The ecosystem is an important water catchment as it provides fresh water locally and regionally. The Shimba Hills are the source of three permanent rivers, which include: Marere/Manolo/Pemba river; Mkurumudzi and Ramisi. Water from Marere springs in the Shimba Hills reserve is supplied to Kwale, Mombasa and the south coast of Mombasa. Waterfalls in the hills serve as key tourist attractions while the forest tends to moderate temperatures and encourage rainfall locally.
AREA: 250 km square
LOCATION: 35 km southwest of Mombasa, off the main south coast road that leads to the Tanzanian border.
GAZETTEMENT: September 1968
WHEN TO VISIT: All year round, most roads consist of all- weather murram roads
ACCESSIBILITY: The reserve has one airstrip 1.9 km long. Regular passenger flights land at nearby Ukunda airstrip on Diani beach or the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.