ARABUKO SOKOKE FOREST RESERVE
Arabuko Sokoke forest reserve is found on the Kenyan coast 110KM from Mombasa town. Its size 420sq Km and is the largest and most intact coastal forest in East Africa. The forest is protected and managed by the Kenya forest Services.
When it come to wildlife, the forest reserve is regarded as an area of high endemism with endemic birds and mammals. It has three forest types, mixed forest, Brachystegia and Cynometra, each of which hosts different types of plants and animals.
WILDLIFE IN ARABUKO SOKOKE
Endemic and near endemic birds include the clarke’s weaver which is completely endemic to this forest, sokoke Amani Sunbird, East Coast Akalat, Sokoke Scops Owl, Sokoke Pipit, and the Spotted Ground Thrush are found here and in few parts of Tanzania.
The mammal that is endemic to this forest is the golden rumped elephant shrew which is about the size of rabbit and is common in the reserve. Sokoke Bushy-tailed Mongoose and Ader’s Duiker are only found here and in Zanzibar. Over 40 mammal species have been recorded in this forest and they include African Elephant, African Buffalo, African Civet, Caracal, Syke’s Monkeys, Yellow Baboons and Lesser Galago (or bushbaby). The reserve has also 49 reptile and 25 amphibian species.
Three types of forest exist in Arabuko sokoke are explained as
This type is dominated by species like Hymenaea verrucosa and Manilkara sansibarensis. The dense vegetation in this forest type creates a tropical atmosphere as one walks or drives through. Animals that are commonly sighted here include the Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew, East Coast Akalat and Tiny Greenbuls.
Cynometra-dominated forests and thickets:
More than half of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve is covered by this plants. Sokoke Scops Owls can be seen here. Animals common here are Caracal, Civet, Genet, Suni and other mammals.
Sometimes referred to as as Miombo woodlands, this forest type is open, airy and beautiful to walk through. Birds and butterflies can be easily seen in the open canopy.
Activities in Arabuko Sokoke
- Forest walks on a network of well marked trails
- Forest drives on more than 30 KM of tracks traversing the forest.
- Bird watching
- Butterfly watching
GETTING THERE TO ARABUKO SOKOKE
The forest is located along Mombasa Malindi highway about 100KM from Mombasa and 18 KM from Malindi. One can get there by road, or train through Mombasa or by flight through Malindi. Arabuko Sokoke has a network of driving tracks and walking trails. It can be accessed by two wheel drive vehicles but for best access to all tracks, a 4WD is recommended. Driving is a good way to see transitions between the different forest types but one learns more about the forest by taking a guided walk.
What to wear and carry
Comfortable walking shoes or trainers and loose-fitting lightweight clothing are recommended. A hat, sunglasses and sunscreen will also be useful. Binoculars, camera and wildlife books especially for birds and butterflies are also important to bring along.
There are two wet seasons: April-June (long rains) and November-December (short rains). The other months will be usually hot and dry.
Important things to remember when visiting Arabuko-Sokoke forest according to KFS
Enjoy yourself; in addition to seeing, pause and listen regularly.
Stop to allow wildlife to move off the tracks before you pass.
Never feed wild animals.
You should not start fires in the forest.
Do not take away animals, animal products, plants or plant parts.
Desist from marking or defacing tree stems, stones and other features.
Avoid noise as it disturbs both wildlife and other visitors. Do not exceed 40kph when driving in the forest.
Be careful as animals here are wild and can be dangerous.
Take all the litter that you brought away with you.
Keep to the designated tracks and paths when walking. Always be sure of where you are headed to or coming from as orientation in forests can be difficult.