Witu Forest Reserve

Witu Forest is a protected area positioned in Lamu District of Kenya which was formed in 1927 by combining the Utwani Forest Reserve with the adjacent Gongoni Forest Reserve although the previous names remained in use.

The independent Kenyan government confirmed the reservation, gazette the forest in 1962 with 701 hectares (1,732 acres) more gazetted in 2002.

The forest covers an area of 4,639 hectares (11,463 acres) of gazetted land with approximately 900 hectares (2,224 acres) of additional un-gazetted but enclosed forest.

The adjacent Mungajini Forest on the Nairobi Ranch comprises of approximately 1,100 hectares (2,718 acres). As of 2007, there was no management plan for the forest although it is to be managed under the Forests Act by the Kenya Forest Service which replaced the prior Forest Department in 2005.

Witu Forest is bounded to the northeast and east by the Pangani Swamp and to the east and southeast by the Nairobi Ranch including the Mungajini Forest.

To the south and southwest it is bordered by Witu settlement areas of which the settlement areas were established in 1995 for agricultural development for the local people however, the government has been charged with relocating displaced people from the Central Province.

The town of Witu is five kilometers to the west and has about 6,000 inhabitants, thus visitors to the forest will have people to interact with during the community/cultural encounters.

In 2004, illegal logging in Witu forest was reported as being extensive and a much more serious problem than local hunting for bush-meat. Illegal logging continued and was noted still in 2011.

Euphorbia tanaensis is a critically endangered plant found in the Witu Forest Reserve where there are only 20 mature plants according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN 2009).

Although the forest is a reserve and is therefore legally protected, this has not accorded adequate protection to this and other endangered tree species that it hosts.

The forest is an important elephant migrating route between Kapini conservancy, Amu ranch and Dodori national reserve. Tourists to the reserve will spot a variety of wildlife including the migrating herds of elephants and many primates.

Other sightings in the forest include; gerenuks, buffaloes, gazelles, giraffes, lesser kudus, hartebeests, and many antelope species plus numerous bird crisis.

There are various nearby accommodations which offer shelter to the reserve’s annual visitors such as; Forest Creek lodge & Spa, Kumbali country lodge, Rondo retreat, Jalsa beach hotel and Spa, Kekoorok lodge and many more.