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Occurrence records of mammal species in Tana River Basin, Kenya

Latest version published by National Museums of Kenya on Sep 4, 2019 National Museums of Kenya

The dataset represents occurrence records for mammal species in the Tana River Basin (TRB) ecosystem as well as a few outliers from the Aberdare National Park. The data were mainly sourced from published literature and the accessions register of mammal collections maintained by the Mammalogy Section, National Museums of Kenya (NMK). A few additional records were gleaned from unpublished grey literature as well as sightings and reports by ecotourism websites and lodges operating in TRB. Existing records were supplemented by fieldwork in selected areas to help in ground-truthing and filling data gaps. A total of 935 occurrence records represented by 16 orders, 46 families, 124 genera and 183 mammal species are presented here. Sites frequently visited in the past including Mt. Kenya and Meru National Parks had the largest number of mammal observations, while less visited sites such as Mumoni Hill Forest had very few records. The TRB is important for the protection of nine mammals endemic to Kenya including Cercocebus galeritus (Tana River Mangabey), Tachyoryctes rex (King Root-rat), Tachyoryctes spalacinus (Embi African Root-rat), Grammomys gigas (Giant Thicket Rat), Hylomyscus endorobae (Endorobo Wood Mouse), Otomys orestes (Afroalpine Vlei Rat), Crocidura fumosa (Smoky White-toothed Shrew), Surdisorex norae (Aberdare Mole-shrew) and Surdisorex polulus (Mount Kenya Mole-shrew). The ecosystem is also important for the conservation of three endemic mammal sub-species: Colobus guerza kikuyuensis (Mount Kenya Guereza), Cercopithecus mitis albotorquatus (Pousargues’s Monkey) and Perodicticus potto stockleyi (Mount Kenya Potto). Other species of conservation concern found in TRB are two Critically Endangered (CR) species namely, Beatragus hunteri (Hirola) and Diceros bicornis (Black Rhinoceros) as well seven endangered (EN) mammal species (Procolobus rufomitratus (Eastern Red Colobus), Cercocebus galeritus (Tana River Mangabey), Lycaon pictus (African Wild Dog), Equus grevyi (Grévy’s Zebra), Redunca fulvorufula (Mountain Reedbuck), Oryx beisa (Beisa Oryx) and Grammomys gigas (Giant Thicket Rat). This information underscores the importance of the entire TRB ecosystem for the conservation of mammal biodiversity.

Data Records

The data in this occurrence resource has been published as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A), which is a standardized format for sharing biodiversity data as a set of one or more data tables. The core data table contains 935 records.

This IPT archives the data and thus serves as the data repository. The data and resource metadata are available for download in the downloads section. The versions table lists other versions of the resource that have been made publicly available and allows tracking changes made to the resource over time.


Download the latest version of this resource data as a Darwin Core Archive (DwC-A) or the resource metadata as EML or RTF:

Data as a DwC-A file download 935 records in English (44 KB) - Update frequency: unknown
Metadata as an EML file download in English (21 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (18 KB)


The table below shows only published versions of the resource that are publicly accessible.

How to cite

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

Musila S, Syingi R, Mutavi D, Odhiambo K, Masinde S (2019): Occurrence records of mammal species in Tana River Basin, Kenya. v1.1. National Museums of Kenya. Dataset/Occurrence.


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is National Museums of Kenya. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC-BY-NC) 4.0 License.

GBIF Registration

This resource has been registered with GBIF, and assigned the following GBIF UUID: b99b4a2f-9797-4f67-8689-dd89f27ae270.  National Museums of Kenya publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by GBIF Kenya.


Mammals; Occurrence; specimen data; sight records; human observation; Tana River Basin; Kenya; Observation


Who created the resource:

Simon Musila
Head, Mammalogy Section
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE
Robert Syingi
Research Technician
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE
Daniel Mutavi
Research Intern
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100 Nairobi Nairobi KE
Kevin Odhiambo
Project Assistant -
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE
Siro Masinde
Principal Research Scientist
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE

Who can answer questions about the resource:

Simon Musila
Head, Mammalogy Section
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE

Who filled in the metadata:

Simon Musila
Head, Mammalogy Section
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100, Nairobi Nairobi Nairobi KE

Who else was associated with the resource:

Esther Mwangi
Research Scientist
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100 Nairobi Nairobi KE
Lawrence Monda
ICT Manager
National Museums of Kenya Museum Hill Road P. O. Box 40658 - 00100 Nairobi Nairobi KE

Geographic Coverage

Tana River Basin Ecosystem in southeastern Kenya from the upper catchment in Mt. Kenya to the floodplains of Tana River delta at the Indian Ocean. Latitude: 0.01472222 - -2.011389, Longitude: 38.42861 - 40.25

Bounding Coordinates South West [-90, -180], North East [90, 180]

Taxonomic Coverage

Mammal species: Phylum - Chordata, Class – Mammalia; represented by 16 Orders, 46 families and 124 genera.

Class  Mammalia

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 1983-01-01 / 2019-01-01

Project Data

No Description available

Title Developing a Freshwater Biodiversity Information System for the Tana River Basin, Kenya, for Improved Ecosystem Management and Development Planning
Identifier 60704 JRS-NMK
Funding JRS Biodiversity Foundation -
Study Area Description Tana River Basin is located in south eastern Kenya approximately between latitudes 0°0’53” and 2°0’41’’ South, and longitudes 38°25’43” and 40°15’ East, covering an area of about 95,000 km2 (Baker et al 2015). It is bordered by the Ewaso Ng’iro North Catchment to the north, the Rift Valley to the west, Athi Basin to the south and Somalia and the Indian Ocean to the east. The Tana River has its headwaters in the forests of Mount Kenya and the Nyandarua Ranges including Aberdares and rapidly descends down the mountain slopes where there is intensive agriculture, then through the arid and semi-arid areas comprising rangelands and finally terminates in a large delta at the Indian Ocean. The basin is generally divided into three ecosystems that are recognised based on their elevation, climate and vegetation cover (Van Beukering and De Moel 2015). The upper catchment above 1000 m a.s.l. consists of forested regions with high relief and higher rainfall. The middle catchment between 300-1000 m is flatter, drier and semi-arid to arid. The lower catchment below 300 m a.s.l. is semi-arid to moist at the coast with dry coastal forests and mangroves swamps and forms a delta with a large floodplain before discharging into the Indian Ocean.
Design Description The occurrence records were compiled from the register of specimens collections at the Mammalogy Section, NMK, published literature and selected websites of tour operators and lodges operating in the TRB. Circumstantial evidence through interviews with the local people also yielded some occurrence records. The key literature sources were: Neal (1984), Alibhai and Keys (1985), Cunningham-van Somren (1986), Butynski and Mwangi (1994), Braude et al. (2000), Lambrechts et al. (2003), Webala et al. (2004), Njoroge et al. (2006), KFS (2010) Lala (2011), Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett. 2014; Demos et al. (2018), Hall (2018); Musila et al. (2018); Musila et al. (2019). Specimen records are from vouchers collected using different methods appropriate for each taxon, including dried skins and material preserved in 70% ethanol, and deposited in the Mammalogy Section Lab. In addition, a short field work was conducted in May 2019, to selected areas in upper TRB covering Ngaya, Chuka (Kiang’ondu), Kijegge and Kiang’ombe. Field observations of mammals were also carried out using different methods appropriate for each order, family or species. For taxonomy and common names of mammals we follow Kingdon (2015).

The personnel involved in the project:

Principal Investigator
Siro Masinde

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Alibhai S. K. and Key G. 1985. A preliminary investigation of small mammal biology in the Kora National Reserve, Kenya
  2. Baker, T.; Kiptala, J.; Olaka, L.; Oates, N.; Hussain, A.; McCartney, M. 2015. Baseline review and ecosystem services assessment of the Tana River Basin, Kenya. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 107p. (IWMI Working Paper 165).
  3. Braude, S., Ciszek, D., Berg, N.E. and Shefferly, N., 2001. The ontogeny and distribution of countershading in colonies of the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber). Journal of Zoology, 253(3), pp.351-357.
  4. Butynski, T.M. and Mwangi, G., 1994. Conservation status and distribution of the Tana River red colobus and crested mangabey. Unpublished report for Zoo Atlanta, National Museums of Kenya, Institute of Primate Research and East African Wildlife Society, 67.
  5. Christian, L., Woodley, B., Church, C., Gachanja, M. 2003. Aerial survey of the destruction of the Aberdare Range Forests. UNEP. Nairobi.
  6. Cunningham-van Somren, G.R., 1986. The larger mammals of the Kora National Reserve, with notes on the Sciuridae and Bathyergidae’ in Coe, M. and Collins, N. M., (eds.) (1986) Kora: an ecological inventory of the Kora National Reserve, Kenya,. Royal Geographical Society, London, pp. 287-302
  7. Demos, T.C., Webala, P. W., Bartonjo, M., Patterson, B.D. 2018. Hidden diversity of African Yellow House Bats (Vespertilionidae, Scotophilus): Insights from multilocus phylogenetics and lineage delimitation. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 6.
  8. Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Dowsett, R.J. 2014. Checklist of the birds of Kipini Conservancy, Lamu and Tana River districts, coastal Kenya . Scopus 33: 1–44.
  9. Hall, J. 2018. Mammal watching in Kenya. November 2018
  10. KFS, Aberdare Forest Reserve Management Plan 2010 – 2019
  11. Kingdon, J. 2015. Kingdon’s field guide to African mammals, 2nd edition. Bloomsburg publishing. London-UK.
  12. Kipini Conservancy. 2018., Accessed 12th November 2018
  13. KWS. 2018. Accessed 20th November 2018.
  14. Lala, F. 2011. Use of bone decay rate (Taphonomy) in determining wildlife numbers and distribution in Meru National Park, Kenya. MSc. thesis. University of Nairobi, Kenya.
  15. Musila, S., Chen, Z.Z., Li, Q., Yego, R., Zhang, B., Onditi, K., Muthoni, I., He, S.W., Omondi, S., Mathenge, J. and Kioko, E.N., 2019. Diversity and distribution patterns of non-volant small mammals along different elevation gradients on Mt. Kenya, Kenya. Zoological Research, 40(1), p.53.
  16. Musila, S., Monadjem, A., Webala, P.W., Patterson, B.D., Hutterer, R., De Jong, Y.A., Butynski, T.M., Mwangi, G., Chen, Z.Z. and Jiang, X.L., 2019. An annotated checklist of mammals of Kenya. Zoological Research,40(1), p.3.
  17. Neal, B. R. 1984. Relationship between feeding habits, climate and reproduction of small mammals in Meru National Park, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology 22:195–205
  18. Niklas Hanqvist. 2018. 13th November 2018
  19. Njoroge, P., Yego, R., Muchane, M., Githiru, M., Njeri, T. and Giani, A., 2006. A Survey of the Large and Medium Sized Mammals of Arawale National Reserve, Kenya
  20. Rhino River Camp. 2019. Larger Mammals Of Meru National Park. Accessed 3rd April 2019
  21. Sikes, R.S. and Gannon, W.L., 2011. Guidelines of the American Society of Mammalogists for the use of wild mammals in research. Journal of Mammalogy, 92(1), pp.235-253.
  22. Southern Valley Safaris. 2018. Accessed 12th November 2018
  23. Tana River Primate Reserve Safari. 2018. Guide- Accessed 12th November 2018
  24. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. 2018. downloaded 12th November 2018
  25. Van Beukering, P, De Moel, H. (eds) (2015). The Economics of Ecosystem Services of the Tana River Basin.
  26. Webala, P.W., Oguge, N.O. and Bekele, A., 2004. Bat species diversity and distribution in three vegetation communities of Meru National Park, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 42(3), pp.171-179

Additional Metadata

Alternative Identifiers b99b4a2f-9797-4f67-8689-dd89f27ae270