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A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, 2019

Latest version published by A Rocha Kenya on Jan 23, 2019 A Rocha Kenya

This Checklist lists the 88 species of reptiles and 30 species of amphibians recorded within the boundary of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest on the north coast of Kenya. Arabuko-Sokoke is internationally known for its rich and threatened biodiversity and, in spite of being a ‘dry’ coastal forest, holds 33 species of frog. While the list represents studies carried out on the herps of the forest over a period of more than 80 years, relatively few experts have spent significant time in the forest and there are still species constantly being discovered in the forest. Broadley's Dwarf Gecko (Lygodactylus broadleyi) was discovered in 2018 and earlier Usambara Forest Gecko Cnemaspis africana together with two undescribed limbless skinks in the genera Scolecoseps and Melanoseps. The checklist uses the accepted scientific names of species as at date of publication including authorship with additional columns as per Darwin Core Standards. The records were collected primarily through sight observations and capture of individuals. The data were digitized by A Rocha Kenya and verified by other lead authors.

Data Records

The data in this checklist 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 118 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 118 records in English (10 KB) - Update frequency: unknown
Metadata as an EML file download in English (20 KB)
Metadata as an RTF file download in English (15 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:

Taylor R, Malonza P, Spawls S (2019): A checklist of the reptiles and amphibians of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Kenya, 2019. v1.0. A Rocha Kenya. Dataset/Checklist.


Researchers should respect the following rights statement:

The publisher and rights holder of this work is A Rocha 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: b4a1d879-9344-4186-a337-09a3efc368aa.  A Rocha Kenya publishes this resource, and is itself registered in GBIF as a data publisher endorsed by Participant Node Managers Committee.


reptiles; amphibians; snakes; frogs; tortoise; lizard; herps; checklist; Arabuko-Sokoke Forest; coastal forest; Kilifi County; East Africa.; Inventoryregional


Who created the resource:

Royjan Taylor
Lead author
BioKen Snake Farm, National Museums of Kenya P.O Box 3 80202 Watamu +254718290324
Patrick Malonza
National Museums of Kenya P.O Box 40658 00100 Nairobi KE +254721296520
Steve Spawls
Private 7 Crostwick Lane, Spixworth Norwich GB

Who can answer questions about the resource:

Colin Jackson
National Director
A Rocha Kenya P.O Box 383 80202 Watamu KE +254722842366

Who filled in the metadata:

Judith Ochieng
Data Clerk
A Rocha Kenya P.O Box 383 80202 Watamu KE
Colin Jackson
National Director
A Rocha Kenya P.O Box 383 80202 Watamu KE +254 722842366
Steve Spawls
Private 7 Crostwick Lane, Spixworth Norwich GB
Patrick Malonza
National Museums of Kenya P.O Box 40658 00100 Nairobi KE
Rene Navarro
Database Manager
FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Cape Town,Rondebosch 7701 South Africa Cape Town ZA

Who else was associated with the resource:

Lawrence Monda
ICT Manager
National Museums of Kenya P.O Box 40658 00100 Nairobi KE

Geographic Coverage

Reptiles and amphibians recorded within the gazetted boundaries of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.Latitude of 3° 20’ S, Longitude 39° 50’ E

Bounding Coordinates South West [-3.502, 39.729], North East [-3.195, 40.008]

Taxonomic Coverage

Class Reptilia, Order Testudines, Order Squamata, suborders Serpentes, Lacertilia, and Iguana; and Class Amphibia, Order Anura.

Species  Kinixys zombensis Hewitt, 1931 (Eastern Hinge-back Tortoise / Zomba Hinge-back)

Temporal Coverage

Start Date / End Date 1935-01-01 / 2018-01-01

Project Data

On the north coast of Kenya lies the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (ASF) and, once contiguous to ASF, the Gede Ruins National Monument forest. A forest locally, nationally and internationally recognised for its threatened forest landscape and unique biodiversity, ASF is a UNESCO biosphere reserve, considered by Birdlife as the second most important forest for threatened bird species conservation on mainland Africa and listed among the coastal forests of eastern Africa hotspot; because of many globally threatened and endemic species. The combined effect of climate-change and socio-economic change in the region poses a high risk to this forest and its biodiversity. Management of the forest has also to accommodate competing conservation demands. In particular, the elephant population is fenced within the forest to mitigate conflict with surrounding communities but has a direct impact on habitat and biodiversity. But, too little evidence currently exists to quantify biodiversity trends and status. Existing data are scattered and often ‘locked up’ in non-digitised or inaccessible digital form. These data could provide significant insights to inform ASF management decisions for biodiversity conservation and research if they were in an accessible format. BID funds would bring together A Rocha Kenya, the National Museum of Kenya (NMK), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Animal Demography Unit of University of Cape Town (ADU), and the Arabuko- Sokoke Forest Guides Association (ASFGA) to access, assess, digitize, engage and improve the data for birds, mammals, invertebrates, reptiles and higher plants in order to inform the management of this important, unique and threatened forest ecosystem.

Title Application of biodiversity monitoring data to resolve competing conservation management priorities in an East African forest landscape.
Identifier BID-AF2017-0274-NAC
Funding European Union through GBIF:
Study Area Description Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining patch of indigenous coastal forest in East Africa. It is located just south of Malindi at 03° 20’ S, 39° 50’ E. It predominantly consists of three distinct forest habitat types: Cynometra Forest (c. 23,500 ha) which is dominated by Cynometra webberi and Manilkara sulcata; it used also to be dominated by Brachylaena huilliensis but this has been largely selectively removed; Brachystegia Woodland (c. 7,700 ha), dominated by Brachystegia spiciformis on white sandy soil; and Mixed Forest (c.7,000 ha) which occurs on the eastern side and has a diverse tree flora including Afzelia quanzensis (formerly dominant), Hymenaea verrucosa, Combretum schumannii and Manilkara sansibarensis and the cycad Encephalartos hildebrandtii. A series of seasonal wetlands run north-south along the length of the forest where the more clay-rich red soils of the Cynometra underlie the permeable white sandy soil of the Brachystegia. Plantations of exotic trees exist mostly around the Gede and Jilore forest stations in the north with one smaller plantation along the southern boundary. The forest now fully isolated as a habitat being surrounded by low grade farmland with all forest cover removed.
Design Description This checklist contains records of reptiles and amphibians found in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. It is based on a list first compiled by James Ashe in 1999 and added to and edited by the other lead authors. The records are from confirmed observations, identifiable photographs and trapped animals. The checklist was digitised and prepared for publishing through GBIF by A Rocha Kenya.

The personnel involved in the project:

Judith Ochieng
Lawrence Monda
Royjan Taylor
Steve Spawls
Patrick Malonza

Sampling Methods

The checklist is based on a list first compiled by James Ashe in 1999 and added to and edited by the other lead authors. The records are taken from confirmed observations, identifiable photographs and trapped animals. Many of the records result from ad hoc encounters with reptiles in Arabuko-Sokoke; others come from systematic surveys carried out with a specific focus. An example of the latter is the study carried out by Jesse Borden in 2018 looking at herps diversity and abundance with distance from the forest edge and height from the ground. Large trees were selected as representative for each location sampled and thoroughly searched for any lizards, snakes or frogs. The ground within 10m of the tree base was also thoroughly searched. The checklist was digitised and prepared for publishing through GBIF by A Rocha Kenya.

Study Extent Species listed here were recorded within the boundaries of the gazetted Arabuko-Sokoke Forest which covers an area of c.42,000 ha. Records are included from when herpetological studies began in the forest from around 1935 to date. Many records are from simply ad hoc observations and encounters by herpetologists, many amateur; others result from focussed and systematic studies on one or more of the families represented in this checklist.
Quality Control The original species list was compiled by local expert herpetologist, James Ashe, and was checked and re-checked by the other lead expert authors who have spent much time in the field in Arabuko-Sokoke. Clarification on taxonomy and nomenclature was also carried out with reference to expert lead authors together with reference to The Reptile Database and Amphibiaweb

Method step description:

  1. A list of the expert herpetologists who had been known to work in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest was drawn up and each one contacted for their input and comment on the species list that was initially drawn up. Websites listing reptile and amphibian species taxonomy were referenced in order to ensure up-to-date nomenclature wherever possible.

Bibliographic Citations

  1. Spawls S, Ashe J, Howell K, Drewes R, 2001, “A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa. Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi” Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, London, ISBN 0-12-656-470-1

Additional Metadata

Purpose This dataset was developed to be used by resource managers, researchers and general public to highlight herps species present within Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. This as well raises the importance of the forest in terms of biodiversity conservation and its management. The dataset aims to encourage researchers to carry out further research to look for additional species that might occur but not captured in the list.
Alternative Identifiers