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BUFFALO AND SHABA

NATIONAL RESERVE
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Buffalo National Reserve. Lies in Isiolo district at the northern foot of Mt Kenya covering 132km sq. The arid and semi-arid zones district sits as a divide between the populous agricultural highlands of the Mt. Kenya region and acts as a gateway into the vast lowlands of North Kenya inhabited by various nomadic pastoralist communities where wildlife and livestock freely co-exist.

Together with the adjacent Samburu, and divided by the river Ewaso Nyiro, the three reserves form a very popular tourist destination because of the diverse wildlife populations they support. Unlike other wildlife areas in Kenya’s northern tourist circuit, the reserves, which are popularly known as the Samburu Ecosystem, sustain free ranging wildlife species both within the three reserves as well as far into community lands.

WILDLIFE.  The reserve is popular with tourists because of its diverse and unique wildlife, Among the vegetation which is mainly acacia woodland and bush-lands and river-line forests there are plenty of elephants, the rare Reticulated giraffe, Grevy’s zebra (cousins to Burshell Zebra) and Beisa Oryx. There are the gerenuks which are seen often standing on their hind legs and using lock necks to reach tops of the thorny shrubs, the elands, lesser and greater kudus, impalas and warthogs. You will not miss the leopard, cheetah, lion and large elephants herds are seen crossing the river Ewaso Ng’iro and bathing at the banks. Hippo pools along the River and basking crocodiles are also visible. There is a waterhole for the buffalos in the reserve where animals gather in dry seasons for fresh clear water and the Reserve draws its name from this spring.

Shaba National Reserve is a protected area in northern Kenya to the east of the Samburu and Buffalo spring national reserves. Together, the three reserves form a large protected area. The reserve is a popular destination for tourists. There is some risk that excess numbers of visitors and growth of the local population around the reserve may place stress on the environment

The Shaba National Reserve was gazetted in 1974. It is administered by the Isiolo County Council. It is just east of Samburu and 70 kilometres  to the north of Mount Kenya. The Ewaso Ngiro river runs for 34 kilometres along the northern boundary of the reserve. Annual rainfall is between 250 millimetres and 500 millimetres. The soils are sandy, volcanic in origin.The reserve is semi desert, dotted with isolated hills and plentiful springs.Shaba Hill in the south, with its volcanic formations, rises to 2,145 metres above sea level from relatively flat surrounding country. The land at the foot of this hill is rugged, containing steep ravines.

The Shaba reserve has dramatic scenery including river-side forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by the Shaba Hill volcano. The plentiful wildlife relies on waterholes and marshes scattered throughout the reserve. Shaba is home to the endangered Grevy’s Zebra and the rare Williams’s Lark Shaba was the setting for the book and film Born Free for the film Out of Africa and for the reality show Survivor Africa.

Shaba is smaller than Samburu Reserve and has more riverine forests, which contain acacia elatior and doum palms Away from the river the habitats include umbrella thorn acacia woodland, bush land dominated by commiphora alkaline grasslands and open areas of lava rock that contain scattered patches of grass and shrubs.