|Tana River Primate National Reserve|
The Tana River National Primate Reserve was gazetted in 1976 to
protect the lower Tana riverine forests and two highly endangered
primates, the Mangabey and the Tana River Red Colobus. The reserve
consists mainly of patches of riparian forests extending for 16km long
the meandering course of the lower Tana River, 350km east of Nairobi
and 240km north of Mombasa. At the time of establishment, the reserve
occupied approximately 171km of forest, dry woodland and savanna
habitat on the East and West of the Lower Tana River.
Bisected by Kenya's longest river, the 960 km (440 mile) mighty Tana as it makes its way from a confluence of rivers beneath Mount Kenya to the Indian Ocean south of Lamu, the Tana River Primate Reserve is one of highly diversified and lush riverine forest, bush, grasslands and open savannah.
The river is wide, brown and often swirling in these parts, and the climate definitely steamy and tropical, all reminiscent of that classic Spencer Tracey/Katharine Hepburn film African Queen. As the last bridge is at Garsen, it has to be crossed by ferry from the west side to reach the riverine forest belt covering 50 km (30 miles) along the east bank. The ferry crossing can be an adventure in itself.
Flood plains, old river channels, lakes and ponds make this sanctuary virtually unique. Set aside primarily to protect two endangered species of monkey: the Crested mangabey (Cercocbus galeritus) and the endemic Red colobus (Colobus badius) -- both survivors of a time when rain forests covered the continent from west to east -- this is a reserve of some very rare plants indeed and bird and animal species unusual in East Africa, more typical of the lowland rainforests of Central Africa. Five other primates include the ubiquitous Sykes monkey and the Yellow baboon.