Dakatcha Forest Wildlife
The Dakatcha Woodlands are an extensive area of coastal forest and woodland located some 50km inland from Malindi to the north of the Sabaki River. It is a mosaic of Brachystegia woodland and Cynometra forest and areas of more open Acacia dominated ‘bush’. It is known to hold at least two Globally Endangered bird species, Clarke’s Weaver (Ploceus golandi) and Sokoke Scops Owl (Otus irenae) and a further three Globally Treatened species, Southern-banded Snake Eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus), Fisher’s Turaco (Tauraco fischeri) and Sokoke Pipit (Anthus sokokensis).
It is also an area in and through which significant numbers of Palaearctic migrants occur with sometimes several thousand Eurasian Roller (Garrulus coracius) stopping to feed in the area while on migration. The Endangered Golden-Rumped Sengi (also known as (Elephant-shrew).
Rhynchocyon chrysopygus also occurs in the area and it is likely that other threatened mammal species such as Ader’s Duiker (Cephalophhus adersi) will also be there.
Prior to 2001 the Sokoke Scops Owl was known in Kenya only from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest just inland from Watamu. In that year a tiny, presumed relic population of the bird was found on the edge of Brachystegia woodland habitat at Majengo forest about 5kms west of Marafa. There were only three birds and within a year only one remained which hung on for some years though is presumed now gone given that the habitat has been even more degraded around there for charcoal burning.
In November 2009 an A Rocha Kenya team was carrying out surveys for Clarke’s Weavers in the Dakatcha Woodlands and came across an area of dense and tall Cynometra-dominated forest which they believed would hold the Sokoke Scops Owl. A visit at night confirmed the presence of between 8-12 birds calling from that patch – in an area known as ‘Kirosa’.
Since then surveys have been carried out more widely that have shown that the owl is indeed present in relatively good numbers but quite restricted to an area approximately 20x30km in size with Kirosa at the centre of it. The European Migrants can at the appropriate time of the year be found in and around the forest in good numbers.