A protected region located in Isiolo County in northern Kenya, to the east of the Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves, the Shaba National Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife. The three reserves come together to form a vast protected area of land.
The Shaba reserve is characterized by stunning scenery, including river-side woods, scattered woodlands, and dry grasslands, dominated by the Shaba Hills volcano. Waterholes and marshes, distributed throughout the reserve, provide a vital water source for the abundant species. Shaba is home to endangered Grevy’s zebra and the uncommon Williams’s lark, and both threatened extinction. Shaba served as the scene for the novel and film Born Free and the movie Out of Africa, and the reality television show Survivor: Africa, among other projects.
The reserve is a popular tourism site for locals and visitors alike. There is a possibility that an increase in the number of visitors and the rise of the local population in the area surrounding the reserve may put further strain on the environment.
The Shaba National Reserve was established in 1974 by Royal Decree. The Isiolo County Council is in charge of administration. It is located approximately 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Mount Kenya, just east of the town of Samburu. The Ewaso Ngiro River flows through the reserve for 34 kilometers (21 miles) at the northern perimeter of the reserve. Rainfall varies from 250 millimeters (9.8 in) to 500 millimeters (15.7 in) every year (20 in). The soils are sand-based and of volcanic origin. The reserve is semi-desert, with solitary hills and abundant springs dotting the landscape. Shaba Hill, to the south, with its volcanic structures, rises to 2,145 meters (7,037 feet) above sea level from the comparatively flat surrounding land, and it is the highest point in the country. The terrain at the foot of this hill is harsh, with steep ravines and cliffs.
Shaba is smaller than Samburu Reserve, but it contains more riverine woods, acacia elatior, and doum palms, both endangered species.
There are different habitats at a distance, including umbrella thorn acacia woodlands, bushland dominated by Commiphora, alkaline grasslands, and open lava rock areas with patches of grass and bushes distributed throughout.
Even though Shaba is greener than Samburu, game animals such as Masai giraffes and Grant’s zebras are less common. The slopes are home to a vast number of klipspringer and hyrax. Aardvarks, warthogs, and bat-eared foxes all make their homes in the shrubland in the form of domed termite mounds. While common eland, Impala, Grant’s gazelle (Bright’s sub-species), and gerenuk graze in the shrubs, zebras, Beisa oryx, greater and lesser kudu, and gerenuk graze in the grasslands of the park. Shaba is well-known for its enormous lion pride. It spends the day resting behind thickets of toothbrush trees in the surrounding area. Predators that hunt at night include the black-backed jackal, the striped hyena, and the spotted hyena. The reserve is home to many endangered and unusual animals, including the reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich, and Grevy’s zebra. African leopards and elephants are among the other species found in the area.
Shaba National Reserve has a diverse bird population similar to the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. Williams’s lark is located in the reserve in areas of rocky lava semi-desert with short Barleria plants. It is considered to be near-threatened and little known. In any other protected region, it has not been observed. Several lesser kestrels pass through the reserve each year as they migrate from their usual breeding grounds in the Palearctic to their wintering grounds in the United States. As well as regionally threatened birds such as the African darter and great egret, Shaba is home to the white-headed vulture, a martial eagle, and the yellow-billed oxpecker, the latter of which is prevalent.