Learn about Kenya's remarkable birds of prey
Kenya has over 70 diurnal birds of prey (raptors) in addition to 19 nocturnal birds of prey (owls). This rich diversity of birds of prey is due to Kenya’s position across the equator, the variety of habitats and being in one of the main migratory flyways.
Simon Thomsett, one of Kenya Bird of Prey Trust’s founders, has been working with birds of prey since he was 7 years old. He has handled over 3000 raptors from the smallest Pygmy Falcon to the mighty Crowned Eagle and Verreaux’s Eagle. Over the past 40 years Simon has seen the numbers of raptors in Kenya fall drastically due to human pressure and development.
Today the Trust has in its care roughly 40 birds, some of which are permanently with us and some that will fly free again. We invite you to come visit these birds, to get to know them and their stories. Our desire is that you leave inspired by the birds and that you keep an eye out for wild birds of prey in your daily lives and travel.
Shiv Kapila, Director of Naivasha Raptor Centre, will happily show you around and introduce you to the birds.
Hang out with our gang of vultures
When you visit Naivasha Raptor Centre you will have a unique opportunity to get down and close with the vultures in our permanent care. Sit and watch them quietly or interact with them and get to know their unique characters. Try to remember not to ware shoes with shoelaces – they love to steal your shoelaces! You are guaranteed to form a whole new attitude toward vultures by the time you leave.
Come and meet Yusef and all of his friends.
Learn about birds of prey rescue, rehabilitation and conservation in Kenya
In Kenya, six species of vultures are classed as critically endangered. Many other raptors are soon to be up listed to that category, a status that demands our intervention to save them from extinction. Threats to birds of prey in Kenya range from:
Electrocution by powerline poles
We believe from our observations over the years that the greatest killer of perching birds of prey today are electric power poles, particularly the new concrete poles that have metal reinforcement poking up through the top. When a buzzard, eagle or vulture lands on a power pole that it though was a prime vantage point, one wing touches a live wire and one foot is earthed on the top of the pole, causing an instant electrocution through the birds body. Sometimes the bird dies instantly and hangs there at the top of the pole, but often, due to the low blood flow in the birds’ legs, the bird is internally ‘fried’ but survives, and either falls to the ground and wonders off or flies a short distance away and dies. It’s these survivors that are recued by passers by and brough to the Trust for recovery and care. Presently many birds in our care are victims of electrocution, showing that this is a major threat to the Kenya’s raptors today.
Habitat destruction and fragmentation
As populations grow and wildlife habitats are reduced, so the raptors retreat to the last remaining stands of wilderness. Some are adapting to live in a human environment, such as the Yellow-billed Kite or the Black Sparrowhawk. In the heart of Nairobi you will find large falcons such as the Lanner or Peregrine nesting on skyscrapers. It is the large eagles and vultures that are feeling the effect most as they require huge ranges to search for food. Vulture populations have plummeted as the food source of wild animals has been reduced over the years. One of our key messages to Kenyans today is to be aware of the environment around you, to care for it and to ensure that wildlife living in these remaining wild spaces are appreciated and allowed their space to live and thrive.
Persecution and poisoning
In Kenya birds of prey have always been seen as the bad guys. They steal chickens or even goats, and as a result are heavily persecuted. With the unfortunate availability of deadly poisons in the street store it has been possible for angry livestock owners to poison birds of prey either intentionally or unintentionally. A major killer of vultures today is the side effect of large predators like lion and leopard killing sheep, cattle, and goats. The owner illegally applies a store-bought poison to the carcass of the sheep or cow with the intention of killing the lion or leopard. As a result up to 100 vultures can be killed in an instant as they ingest the poison from the carcass. Many of the vultures that come into our care have been poisoned. The majority recover after close care and treatment, but some have permanent damage and will never fly again.
Left: Augur buzzard with artificial leg. Right: release of rehabilitated vulture after poisoning.
Book your visit
We request a minimum donation of 1000 KES for adults and 500 KES for children 13 and under.
Location & directions
The centre is located at Kilimandege Sanctuary on South Lake Road in Naivasha. From Naivasha town, take the right hand turning down South Lake Road.
After approx 20 mins, you will pass Sopa Lodge on the right, followed by Longonot Farm.
The Kilimandege Sanctuary is the next gate on the right. There is a silhouetted metal vulture on our entrance gate.