The Arabuko-Sokoke national park is just a small portion of the Arabuko-Sokoke forest reserve which is located on the coast of Kenya only 110 kilometers of Kenya’s second largest city (Mombasa).
The Park is located on the northwestern edge of the forest and it was gazetted in the late 1980s.
The Park straddles the Forest Reserve boundary with about 50% lying outside the boundary of which the outer section lies outside an electric elephant fence installed in 2006/7 and is now fully inhabited by local communities to the extent that there is no sign on the ground to show where the National Park begins or ends.
The National Park doesn’t add any particular protection to the forest. The forest is the largest fragment of coastal forests with 420 square kilometers left in East Africa and is an area of high endemism boosting endemic mammals, birds and plants.
Arabuko Sokoke forest reserve is jointly managed by the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya and the Kenya Forest Research Institute and is one of the better protected forests in Kenya.
The forest was first protected as a Crown Forest in 1943 and was later gazetted in the 1960s however the forest is currently threatened by the desire for land by the local people who want to settle there and also carry on their man-made activities such as; farming, cattle rearing/grazing, agriculture and many more.
Several national and international conservation organizations are however working together with the Kenya Wildlife Service to protect the park. The forest comprises of three major forest types which are; mixed forest, Brachystegia and Cynometra each of which protects different communities of plants and animals.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest protects many endemic and near endemic species such as; the Clarke’s weaver which is fully endemic to the forest well as the eponymous Sokoke scops owl, Sokoke pipit, and the Amani sunbird and spotted ground thrush are only found here and in a forest fragment in Tanzania.
The park adjoins Mida Creek which is a mangrove forest that is an important shorebird wintering ground protecting species such as the Terek sandpiper and the crab plover.
The Arabuko –Sokoke national park protects various endemic mammals though the endearing golden-rumped elephant shrew is the most noticeable of the park’s endemic mammals.
The Sokoke bushy-tailed mongooses and Aders’s duikers are only found here and in Zanzibar. A tourist in the Park should also expect to see some big game such as; the savannah elephants, African buffaloes, bush babies, African civets, Sokokes, Caracals, baboons, red-legged sun-squirrels and Vervet monkeys.
The park is also recognized as an outstanding centre of amphibian diversity such as frogs and many others. Arabuko-Sokoke is also a home to over 270 bird species including; the Clarke’s weaver which is only found here.
Other bird species here include; Sokoke pipit, Sokoke scops owls, Amani sunbirds, East coast Akalat and many others. Activities in the Park therefore include; game viewing, bird watching, camping, picnicking, forest drives, forest walks, cycling, and butterfly watching among others.
Accommodations in the Park include; Jamii villas, Kitsapu cottages, Jambo Jahazi-Bahari house, and Eagle camp Mida Creek among others.