Terrestrial wildlife – fauna
Wildlife species present in the region include elephant (Loxodonta africana), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer), hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchellii), hirola (Beatragus hunteri) – the last representative of a whole genus – waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprimnus), coastal topi (Damaliscus lunatus topi), lesser kudu (Tragelaphus imberbis), gerenuk (Litocranius walleri), desert warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus aethiopicus), and eland (Taurotragus oryx).
During a recent study funded by the Finnish Embassy, a species that was considered virtually extinct in Kenya and whose range was thought to be limited now to Zanzibar (where it is endangered) was found in the area close to the Conservancy: the Aders’ duiker, which is the rarest of this family of mammals.
Large carnivore species found in the area include lions (Panthera leo), spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta), cheetas (Acinonyx jubatus), leopards (Panthera pardus), and hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus).
The large mammal wildlife resource is of the order of 50,000 animals at a conservative estimate. The livestock estimates are of the order of 800,000 cattle, sheep and goats with some donkeys and camels.
The area also hosts marsh mongoose, small primates (vervets, black and white colobus and Blue Sykes monkeys), various amphibians and reptiles. The proximity of the Conservancy to endangered primates the Tana River mangabey and red colobus may also be significant in the future conservation of these species. 203 species of birds have been registered in the area including a healthy population of ostriches.
One of the highest priorities for conservation globally as identified by the IUCN species survival commission, is to protect the last remaining in situ population of the critically endangered antelope, the hirola, which now numbers less than 1000 individuals in the dry scrub land to the north of the Conservancy.
Terrestrial wildlife – flora
The Conservancy is uniquely positioned between marine, forest, wetland, woodland and rangeland ecosystems. It forms a continuous mosaic of highly diverse habitats including sand beaches, dunes, bushland thickets, grassland, woodland, and forest. In addition, it comprises a number of seasonal and permanent wetlands and lakes.
The zone to the North and East of the Nairobi Ranch includes also considerable tracts of undisturbed habitats with considerable and important wildlife resources.
Each of these habitats comprises distinctive communities of plant species. Although no comprehensive inventory of the flora has yet been undertaken, some past studies already revealed the presence of threatened plant species in Witu forest that neighbours the Conservancy. They include: Angylocalyx braunii, Camptolepis ramiflora, Canthium kilifiense, Canthium seudoverticillatum, Euphorbia tanaensis, Kraussia speciosa, Mkilua fragrans, Psychotria crassipetala, Synsepalum subverticillatum.