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Mwea National Reserve

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Posted by  Simba Thursday, 30 March 2006 12:26

Mwea National Reserve

Background Information
The Reserve was gazetted through legal notice No. 2 of 29th January 1976 covering an area of approximately 42sq km northwest of Kamburu Dam at the confluence of Tana and Thiba rivers. Two islands within Kamburu dam (constructed in 1976) are part of the protected area.

Southern boundary of the reserve is bound by Tana river while East boundary conforms to Thiba river. North boundary is marked by an electric fence that protects animals from invading Makima settlement.

The earliest human settlement in Makima area dates back to 1914, though wildlife conservation intervention was not until 1972 when the DC - Embu and District Warden visited to sensitize the local community on the conservation of the otherwise teeming wildlife population.

The earliest human settlement in Makima area dates back to 1914, though wildlife conservation intervention was not until 1972 when the DC - Embu and District Warden visited to sensitize the local community on the conservation of the otherwise teeming wildlife population.

Mwea National Reserve is today co-managed between Kenya Wildlife Service and Mbeere County Council through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). An Advisory Committee oversees the implementation of management plans of the Reserve making these arrangement to be unique in comparison with other Reserves.

Mwea National Reserve Trust was founded in 1991 with the aim of soliciting funds to develop the reserve. Quite a number of projects have been funded through donations from well-wishers including a boat and out-board engine, energy saving jikos, translocating of Zebras and many others.

In 1991, the British, jointly with KWS constructed three bridges and graded most of the Reserve roads, helped in the construction of two classrooms at Namuri Primary School. At around the same time the electric fence constructed with funds from the European Union (EU) was commissioned thereby lessening the ever escalating human-wildlife Conflicts.

Location
Geographically Mwea National Reserve is located between latitudes 0 45'N and 0 52'N, longitudes 37 35'E and 37 40'E.

Administratively its located within Makima Location, Karaba Division of Mbeere District, in Eastern Province.

Climate
Hot and dry with occasional easterly winds with bimodal rainfall of between 250 and 500mm. Temperatures range between 10 and 30oC.

How To Get There
The reserve is accessible through air, road, and railway.

Air: There is an all-weather airstrip at Masinga about 14km from the reserve Hqs Main gate.

Road: A number of routes can be used:

Nairobi - Thika - Garissa and turn off at about 130kms following the tarmac, to river crossing at Kamburu Dam, and another turn-off at Machang'a then over Thiba river for 11kms, to the Reserve: a total of 193kms.

Using (i) above, turn-off just after Kaewa and running south parallel to Tana River to cross at Masinga Dam well through Mbooni to the Reserve Hqs: a Total of 180kms.

Nairobi - Embu via Thika and the 43kms along Embu to Kitui. Turn off is at Machang'a and then 11kms to the Reserve Hqs.

Alternate routes are available from Embu though they are earth roads to the Reserve Hqs.

Railway: 13kms from Nairobi, a third class coach travels upto Sagana where one can drop off before the train proceeds to Nanyuki. This is scheduled for Saturdays while return journey is on Sundays. From Sagana, public transport is readily available to Embu and then Mwea National Reserve.

Park Gates:
The Reserve has only one gate at the Hqs.

Major Attractions

The attractions can be divided into: What is available outside the National Reserve including dams and Mwea National Reserve attractions.

Various dams are located within reach of some few minutes from Mwea National Reserve. They include Kamburu, Masinga, Kiambere, Gitaru, Kindaruma (provides the main source of hydro-power in Kenya). Other additional sites on same Tana river include Mutonga Grand Falls, Usueni, Adamson Falls and Kora.

All these dams can be visited with prior arrangements with KenGen management. Masinga Resort offers boat safaris at a fee in Masinga dam.

The Land is low with occasional hills and to the North are the extended low-lying ranges towards Siakago: the District Hqs of Mbeere District. On clear days Mt. Kenya can be seen to the North. Indeed land slopes to the foothills of Mt. Kenya from Mwea Area.

Other areas of attraction:

  • Hippo Point
  • Campsites
  • Picnic sites
  • Sandy and stoney beach, 4kms long.

Park Infrastructure
There is a central road from which two main circuits emanate: Thiba and Tana circuit. In total the Reserve boasts of a road network of 95kms long.

Kamburu Dam (15km)
The reserve has two boats and out-board engines that can be hired to our visitors for use in Karnbura dam with own fuel and oil.

Accommodation
Masinga Resort is about 13kms away and offers good accommodation in addition to a campsite. Other areas with good Hotel facilities include Embu (Izaak Walton) and Thika towns. These towns have a wide range of hotels from the common budget hotels to high class.

Campsites and Picnic sites
A public campsite exists 200m south of the Reserve Hqs on a raised ground. Long drop pit latrine and bathrooms are available.

There are two Special Campsites:

  • Silvester
  • Mavuria

Few picnic sites are available. Near the public campsite, there is a picnic site with a pit latrine. Another picnic site with a long drop pit latrine is at Hippo point.

Common Animals
Dik dik, Elephants, Rothschild giraffes, Common zebras, Cape hare, Warthog, Lesser kudu, Hippos, Crocodile, Stripped ground squirrel, Vervet Monkeys, Aardvark, Yellow baboons, Buffalo, Water Buck, Bush buck, Grants gazelle, Impala, Black backed jackal, Crested porcupine, Duiker, Sykes monkeys, Genet cat, Slender mongoose, Dwarf mongoose, Rock Hyrax, Tree Hyrax, Tortoise.

Birds
About 150 different bird species have been recorded in the reserve. Quite a number of different snakes and lizards exist too.

Common Vegetation
The Reserve has many vegetation types. Some areas have thick bush with scattered large trees, which sometimes render game viewing a difficult undertaking. Other areas have grass with scattered trees while along the main rivers, and dry river valleys are large trees with thick undergrowth. Trees mainly found include: the baobab, Acacia tortolis, Acacia mellifera and Commiphora.

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