KBA in Focus: Ol’ Donyo Sabache

In the east of Namunyak Conservancy, Samburu County lies the magnificent Ol Donyo Sabache Key Biodiversity Area (KBA). The KBA, also known as Mount Ololokwe, is a massive basalt rock outcrop with dramatic cliff faces towering above the surrounding plains. Ol Donyo Sabache is a sacred site for the Samburu people, often used as a traditional shrine for prayers and rituals. It is a popular destination for hikers and trekkers, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape from its summit.

The KBA presents an ideal roosting and nesting site for several birds of prey such as the Critically Endangered Rüppell’s Vultures and the elusive Taita Falcons. Ol Donyo Sabache is also a stopover for numerous Palearctic migrants like Levant and Eurasian sparrowhawks, Saker and Peregrine falcons. It also shelters numerous plant and other animal species of conservation importance.

Despite its magnificence and biodiversity importance, the KBA faces many threats. They include habitat loss and fragmentation due to the expansion of human settlements, agriculture, and infrastructural projects. Power lines passing near the KBA pose bird electrocution and collision threats. Increased demand for pasture and water has escalated competition for natural resources between wildlife and livestock. This has led to overgrazing and depletion of vegetation cover and reduced the availability of food and shelter for wildlife. Poaching and illegal trade in wildlife products, such as ivory and rhino horns, remain a major conservation challenge in the area, resulting in a population decline of some wildlife species.

Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns due to climate change have also impacted negatively on the distribution and behaviour of some wild animals.

To address these challenges, conservation actions such as restoring habitats, promoting sustainable land use practices, instigating anti-poaching measures and conducting public education and awareness campaigns are critical to ensuring the continued biodiversity of the Ol Donyo Sabache KBA and surrounding areas. Community conservancies in the area, like the Kalama Community Conservancy to the south and West Gate Community Conservancy to the west, play a crucial role in ensuring that the KBA remains pristine.

Nature Kenya has been submitting comments to the national and county government departments and agencies for infrastructural projects deemed likely to affect the KBA, like the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project.