Kakamega Forest

Area description

Kakamega forest is recognized as the eastern-most relic of the Guineo-Congolian lowland rainforest belt, which once stretched from Kenya across Uganda, East and Central Africa to the West African coast. Situated in Western Kenya, 35 km from Lake Victoria, Kakamega Forest is an exclusive sanctuary for an extraordinary variety of endemic flora and fauna, including insects, reptiles and birds which are not found in other parts of the country. An estimated 10 - 20% of the animal species in the forest are unique to this forest. It is also an important watershed for some of the rivers that flow into Lake Victoria. The forest is very useful to the people living around it, as a source of timber, fuel wood, herbal medicines, building materials, food and land for farming.

The first demarcation of the forest boundary was carried out around 1908-10, when the forest was managed under the Local Native Council. The discovery of gold in the district led to the Kakamega gold rush of the early 1930s, thus many parts of the forest were opened up to gold prospectors. With the rapid increase in the need for pit-props, fuel wood and timber, the first exploitation of the forest for timber took place.


The forest covers about 230 km2, and less than half of this area currently remains as indigenous forest. There are numerous grassy clearings and glades. Large mammals are rare in the forest, but the extensive variety of birds, reptiles and insects make it a specialist eco-tourism attraction for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. Part of the forest also contains unique and rich highland ecosystems, but generally the fauna and flora of the Forest have not been studied comprehensively. The forest experiences a very wet climate, with over two meters of rain annually. The rainy seasons are April-to-May and August-to September.


KFE components comprises one national reserve (Kakamega forest), three forest reserves (Kisere, Kakamega, Malava and Bunyala) and two nature reserves (Isecheno and Yala).


Kakamega Forest Reserve is situated approximately 1.6 - 22.4 km east of Kakamega town. The forest was declared a forest area by Proclamation No. 14 of 13th February 1933 which set aside 23,777.3 hectares as Kakamega Forest, along with Malava Forest block. Currently it covers an area of about 19,792.4 hectares in size after several excisions over time and creation of Kakamega National Reserve.


Malava Forest Reserve was established through Proclamation No.14, of Feb 13th, 1933. It was declared a forest reserve with an area of 718.8 Ha.


Isecheno Forest Station Nature Reserve lies within the Kakamega Forest and is located in the western portion of the forest. It was declared a Forest Nature Reserve via Boundary Plan number 180/40-42 and is estimated to cover an area of 138 hectares.


Yala River Nature Reserve lies within the Kakamega Forest Reserve and situated in the southern portion of the Kakamega Forest, covering an area of approximately 538 hectares. It was declared a Forest Nature Reserve via Boundary Plan number 180/40-42.


Bunyala forest has an area of 826.6 Ha and gazetted under proclamation No. 421 of 1956 and is managed by KFS.

Exceptional Resource Values


The KFE Exceptional Resource Values (ERVs) describe the area’s key natural resources and other features that provide outstanding benefits to local, national and international stakeholders and that are especially important for maintaining the area’s unique qualities, characteristics and ecology.



Important Bird Area (IBA) Diverse primates (De Brazza’s monkey, Blue monkey, black and White Colobus and Red-tailed Monkey) High insect diversity Endemic snakes (Kaimosi blind snake, Gabon viper) Rich diversity of tree species A remnant of Guinea-congolean Equatorial forest



Beautiful panoramic view points - Liranda, Mahiakalu and Buyangu hills Isiukhu and Yala River Natural glades Kakamega Forest canopy



Source of livelihood - fodder for cattle, grass, sericulture (wild silk) harvesting medicinal plants, Wild vegetables –mushroom, and tree nursery establishment, domestication and commercialization of Mondia and Osmum spp, Ecotourism tour guiding, Bandas, bird watching bee keeping, butterfly farming, snake farming Good micro climate - high rainfall, watershed for lake Victoria basin



Tiriki cultural sites (circumcision) Community cultural activites - bull fighting, Dog market at Lubau, cock fighting, traditional dances, pottery at Ilesi and Mukhonje


Forest Products

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