Using Major Roads to Cover Unmapped Pentads on the Kenya Bird Map

During our 2018 series on The Current Status of Kenya’s Bird Atlas, many of the major gaps in coverage that were highlighted appeared very difficult to reach due to their remoteness. Kenya is, however, a rapidly developing country and there is a fairly decent road network in most parts of the country today. These roads can be used to get to many places that were once almost inaccessible.

Due to Kenya’s huge diversity in habitats, altitude and landscape overall, the country’s major roads can be used like transects to collect records on the species of birds that occur in these varying habitats. A good example is the Nairobi-Mombasa road. If all the pentads along this road were atlassed, it would be possible to get a pretty good picture of the changes in bird species composition from above 1600m (Nairobi) to sea level (Mombasa). This is a very basic example but I hope you get the idea. This can be done for almost every major road across Kenya as they all almost invariably pass through several different habitat types. The BirdLasser app makes it easy for you to know which pentad you are in and to explore the map in satellite mode for smaller roads/tracks (and different habitats) that you can explore within the pentad.

There are very many unmapped pentads along Kenya’s roads. Here are some of them:

Konza-Mtito gap.JPG
The stretch between Konza and Mtito Andei on Mombasa Rd. is almost blank
Taru-Mazeras gap.JPG
Also on Mombasa Rd … The stretch from Taru to Mazeras
Emali-Kimana gap.JPG
Road from Emali towards Amboseli NP via Kimana
Kitui area road gaps.JPG
The Kibwezi-Kitui road and the road from Thika to Garissa
Namanga Rd gaps.JPG
There are only a few pentads left to close the gap between Namanga and Kajiado. Closing this gap would form a nice ‘pentad caterpillar’ (unbroken line of mapped pentads) from Namanga northwards to Nairobi and then northwest past Nakuru, all the way to Molo! From Nairobi, there is also another caterpillar stretching northeast (along the Thika Rd) past Thika and Makuyu all the way to Embu (with only one unmapped pentad just before Embu breaking the caterpillar).
Northern Kenya roads gaps.JPG
Three major roads in the north still have huge gaps: the stretch between Archer’s post and Moyale, the Isiolo-Mandera Rd and the Kapenguria-Lokichogio Rd. These northern roads, in particular, are bound to produce records of several species that are yet to be recorded on the Kenya Bird Map.
Lake Baringo-Sigor gap.JPG
Road from Lake Baringo to Sigor
Western roads gaps.JPG
In the west, the roads from Mau Narok to Narok, Narok to Kisii, Kisii to Isibania, Kisii to Ahero and Kisumu to Londiani/Mau Summit have only a handful of mapped pentads at present.
Westerb border areas gaps.JPG
Still in the west: the Kisumu-Busia, Kisumu-Webuye, Malaba-Eldoret, Eldoret-Kitale and Kitale-Webuye roads are all almost completely unmapped.
Mara roads gaps.JPG
In the Mara region: about 6 unmapped pentads remain to form a caterpillar between Narok and the Sekenani gate of the Masai Mara NR. Closing the gap along the road to Loita Hills (via Narosura) would also form another unbroken caterpillar from the Loita Hills to Narok. For those based in the Mara, notice the two stray blank pentads amidst all the colored ones! One is just west of Keekorok and the other is east of Mara Rianta (both along well-used tracks). Why not find some time to visit those and color them?

There are several other gaps that you can find by checking out the Coverage Map on the Kenya Bird Map website. Remember that in order to color a pentad, you must complete and submit a full protocol list. Ad-hoc lists do not add color to the pentads on the map.

Come on Kenya Bird Mappers, let’s use Kenya’s well-established road network to substantially increase the coverage of the country. Some roads (especially those in the north-east) may pose challenges due to security risks, but most are fairly safe as long as you let the local people know what you are up to. Before we even start worrying about the insecure roads, there are still many safe and easily accessible ones that have big gaps. And the good thing is that many can be reached via public transport, so you don’t necessarily need to have a vehicle.

Feel free to contact kenyabirdmap@naturekenya.org if you have any questions or are experiencing any challenges while atlassing.

– Author: Sidney Shema (Project Manager – Kenya Bird Map) – 

 

 

 

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One thought on “Using Major Roads to Cover Unmapped Pentads on the Kenya Bird Map

  1. Awesome stuff. Still wish I have a smartphone.

    On Fri, Jan 18, 2019 at 12:33 PM Kenya Bird Map Blog wrote:

    > kenyabirdmap posted: “During our 2018 series on The Current Status of > Kenya’s Bird Atlas, many of the major gaps in coverage that were > highlighted appeared very difficult to reach due to their remoteness. Kenya > is, however, a rapidly developing country and there is a fairly de” >

    Like

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