A Summary of our Enchanting Wildlife (Fauna and Flora)
Our fascinating wildlife awaits you on, in, or nearby our beautiful blue and turquoise seas. Please help us to protect it by looking and not touching or otherwise disturbing it. This will also protect you from unnecessary bites, cuts, and stings.
Our star attractions include dolphins. There are three well known species in this area- the bottlenose (Tursiops aduncus), the humpback(Sousa chinesis) and the majestic spinner (Stenella longirostris). During the migratory season one may see the inspiring humpback whale(Megaptera novaeangliae) on its migratory route. If you are very lucky you might see a majestic whale shark cruising by during its migration. Kisite Island offers opportunity to snorkel or dive the beautiful underwater world and experience numerous tropical fishes, including angelfish, butterflyfish, parrotfish, sweetlips, lionfish, snappers, anemone fish, unicorn fish, all utilising the beautiful reef. The marine life has high diversity such as brain coral, stag coral, beautiful anemones and sponges, stingrays hiding in the sand, moray eelpeeking from the coral formations, and a green or hawksbill turtles which may be resting on the reef or surfacing to breathe. We also have dugong, gastropods, crustaceans, molluscs, echinoderms, sponges. Common names include octopus, squid, cuttlefish, crabs, lobsters,shrimps, shells including giant clams, featherduster worms, nudibranchs, sea stars, sea urchins, jellyfish, sea cucumbers. Kisite Island is protected as an important breeding ground for migratory birds, such as the common noddy (Anous stolidus), roseate terns (Sterna dougallii) and crested terns (Sterna sp). At low tide a beautiful sandy beach is exposed at Kisite and provides guests with opportunity to relax on the sand or in the shallow water to admire the beautiful surroundings. Lower Mpunguti Island is home to the coconut crab(Birgus latro), which is the largest terrestrial arthropod on earth, weighing up to 4kg. Shimoni coral rag forest is home to primates including the Angolan Black and White Colobus monkey (Colobus angolensis palliatus) and Sykes monkey (Cercopithecus (nictitans) mitis), the rare elephant shrew, tortoises, snakes, squirrels and diverse range of birds including hornbills, flycatchers, swallows, weavers, African fish eagles (Haliaeetus vocifer), palm nut vultures (Gypohierax angolensis) , herons, egrets and kingfishers. One could also learn about the indigenous trees and how they are used for medicinal purposes.
Mangrove forests are among the most productive wetland ecosystems on planet earth. These tropical coastal woodlands provide a crucial habitat for wildlife (including fish nurseries), protect coral reefs from sedimentation, play an important role in protecting tropical coastlines from the effect of waves and storms, and provide forest resources for local populations. They are also one of Kenya’s threatened habitats. Historically, mangrove forests lined three-quarters of all tropical and subtropical coasts. Today, less than half of these forests remain, and an estimated 2 percent more are degraded each year for firewood, building materials, coastal development, and industrial shrimp fisheries. For more about Kenyan mangroves, see here.
The Eastern Arc forests of Kenya and Tanzania are a remnant of a once continuous mosaic of unique forest that stretched from the Kenya-Somalia border, to the border of Tanzania and Mozambique (Clarke, 2000). Internationally recognised, this forest system is one of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots and listed as one of 11 ‘priority’ regions for international conservation investment (Myers et al 2000). These unique and diminishing forest habitats support high levels of endemism and important populations of species that have wide-ranging, but fragmented distributions, therefore remaining vulnerable. Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains are renowned for their communities of endemic amphibians, reptiles and mammals. The coastal forests of Kenya form the northern fringe of the Eastern Arc forests, however much less is known about the floral and faunal diversity of these areas.
The coastal forests of Shimoni form a thin strip of ‘coral rag forest’, officially labelled as the ‘Northern Zanzibar-Inhambane Floristic region’. This forest zone is found along the coastal areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia, and is formed on ancient coral reef exposed by falling sea levels, leaving limestone rock and shallow soils. In conjunction with relatively high salinity levels and coastal climatic influences, the plant community and the structure of the forest are adapted to the substrate and favour shallow root systems, which reduce stability. This makes these forest habitats highly susceptible to erosion processes and hence at risk from the influences of deforestation in the wider Shimoni area. The specialised flora that is found in these habitats supports and sustains rare and endemic species which are of particular interest to biological conservation, and to sustainable livelihoods through responsible tourism. Coastal forests continue to be under threat due to human population growth, agricultural expansion and tourist development, therefore increasing the need for a stringent management plan to be enforced, to conserve the remaining forest areas within this region (Anderson et al. 2007b).
Over 300 plant species were recorded and 106 herbarium specimens collected. Among the recorded plants were those listed in the IUCN red list or known to be the region endemics. They include the following
- Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C.C.Berg (Moraceae)- Near threatened
- Buxus obtusifolia (Mildbr.) Hutch. (Buxaceae)- Vulnerable
- Uvario dendronkirkii Verdc. (Annonaceae)- Vulnerable
- Afrocanthium pseudoverticillatum (S.Moore) Lantz (Rubiaceae)- Vulnerable
- Psychotria punctataVatke (Rubiaceae)- Kenya endemic
- Erythrina sacleuxiiHua (Papilionaceae)- Endangered
- Veprissan sibarensis (Engl.) Mziray (Rutaceae)- Vulnerable
- Chytranthus obliquinervis Radlk. ex Engl. (Sapindaceae)- Rare
- Ophrypetal umodoratum Diels (Annonaceae)- Vulnerable
- Macphersonia gracilisO.Hoffm. (Sapindaceae)- Rare in Kenya
- Hildebrandtii A.Br. & Bouch- Near threatened
The list of plants with special conservation concern is expected to increase further after the entire checklist is screened against IUCN red list, FTEA’s and list of East Africa endemics. Erythrinasacleuxii, an endangered plant is abundant on the Mpunguti islands. More than 30 individuals have been recorded. Another species, Macphersoniagracilis, which is rare in Kenya, is one of the most dominant plants in Shimoni forests.
Despite heavy logging and other anthropogenic pressures 45 bird species have been recorded recently. Two species characteristic
of coastal forests endemic bird area were recorded, namely the near threatened Fischer’s Turaco and the Black-bellied Starling. In addition, species of regional concern including the Palm-nut Vulture and the Silvery-cheeked Hornbill were recorded.
Shimoni forest is home to most coastal forest endemics. A few remnant forest specialists are still hanging onto the time lag against extinction as the forest degrades. These include forest specialists such as Retz’s Helmetshrike, Green Barbet, Forest Batis, Olive Sunbird,Tiny Greenbul, Silvery-cheeked Hornbill, Fischer’s Greenbul and Yellow-bellied Greenbul.