Mammals Birds Reptiles Plant Life

IBILOI IS A WORLD HERITAGE SITE, containing some of the world’s most important palaeontological and archaeological sites. Although best known as an important part of the East African "Cradle of Humanity," Sibiloi has excellent wildlife viewing to offer above and beyond its rich palaeontological and archaeological heritage.
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Sibiloi is a refuge to a number of dry country wildlife species including gerenuk, Oryx, the more rare lesser kudu and Grevy's zebra. Furthermore, an abundance of Topi and the more common Burchell’s zebra can be seen grazing along the shoreline. Carnivores include both the striped and spotted hyena, the side-striped and golden jackal, cheetah, lion and other small cats including caracal.

There is excellent game viewing at Sibiloi, particularly along the waters edge where large numbers of Topi and zebra can be seen drinking and grazing on the shoreline grasses and, where jackal and hyena have been sited. Further inland where the landscape opens up offering vast panoramic views, cheetah can seen. Herds of majestic Oryx (aptly nicknamed ‘unicorns’ due to their long, elegant horns) can be found both near the lake and further inland whilst the long-necked gerenuk are found browsing amongst the euphorbia (often standing on their hind legs to reach the higher branches). [ return to top ]

At first glance the area seems an unlikely place to find a rich and incredibly diverse bird life however, the proximity of Lake Turkana attracts a host of different species. Not only can various local species be found along the shore but also an incredible number of African and Palaearctic Migrants that break their long migrations north and south at Turkana. There are also a number of species to be found further inland in the dry luggas, the open plains and the commiphora thickets. The role of Lake Turkana as a pit stop for these migrant species means that at certain times of the year, well over 300 species can be found in area. This wonderful diversity makes Sibiloi a birders paradise.

Numerous water birds including pelicans, various species of heron, ducks, flamingos, gulls and the African Skimmer can be found along the shoreline, including Palaearctic migrants such as the Northern Pintail. The alkaline waters of the Lake provide an ideal habitat for the Lesser Flamingo, which has a preferred diet of blue-green algae (the same algae that gives the Lake its nickname, the “Jade Sea”). Birds of prey such as the Osprey (a Palaearctic migrant) and the African Fish Eagle can be seen along the Lake whilst further inland the diversity of birds of prey includes a number of vultures, harriers, eagles and falcons. On the grassy plains species endemic to the area such as the Heuglin’s Bustard and the Crested Lark can be seen.

Central Island (so named for its location roughly in the centre of the Lake) covers an area of 5km2 as is not only an interesting visit for its scenic beauty but is also worth a visit by any birder. An extinct volcano, the island has three crater lakes, which offer a habitat to a diversity of bird species whilst the island itself is a breeding ground for a number of both local and migratory bird species. [ return to top ]

The reptiles of Sibiloi National Park are less known. If you are a dedicated reptile enthusiast, help spotting and identifying the lesser-known species of snakes and lizards is always welcome. Any identifications would ideally be accompanied with a photograph and should be brought to the attention of the park warden.

Several many snake species can be found in Sibiloi, the majority of which are harmless. However, there are a few venomous varieties about, such as the puff adder, caret viper, and spitting cobra. Caution should be used when encountering any snake, but while the venom of these snakes is quite potent, the snakes themselves are shy, non-aggressive, and are unlikely to present a problem if left alone.

By far the most famous herpetological interest in Sibiloi is the Nile Crocodile. Lake Turkana is the largest breeding ground in the world for these spectacular creatures, and if you discreetly walk the lake shore you're likely to see them sunning themselves in the sand or swimming close to shore, their eyes and nostrils poking out of the water. Crocs present no real danger either if respected. On the beach they are no problem, as you are unlikely to get anywhere close to one before it dashes off into the water. Swimming in Lake Turkana is fine in many places, such as Koobi Fora Camp, but elsewhere you should get advice from a reliable source before plunging in. [ return to top ]

The plant life of the Koobi Fora region is too extensive to cover thoroughly here; however, most species are typical of an East African dry-country environment. The larger trees and bushes are of several species of Acacia; succulent Euphorbia grows in areas, providing browsing opportunities for many different herbivores; many species of grasses provide even better grazing opportunities. Around the lake itself grow numerous reeds and water plants. The entire region is dotted here and there with the beautiful Desert Rose, and after rainy periods many small, colorful flowers pop up almost overnight. [ return to top ]

  A lone Oryx [enlarge]

  Topi near the lake [enlarge]

  Flowers of the Desert Rose [enlarge]


  Burchell's Zebra [enlarge]

  medium-sized Nile Perch [enlarge]

  Flowers come up after rains [enlarge]