Boni National Reserve was gazatted in 1976 as a dry season sanctuary for elephants from Garissa and Lamu Counties. Dodori National Reserve was also gazetted in the same year. Boni which is in Garissa County and Dodori in Lamu County National Reserves are indigenous open canopy forests of the Northern Zanzibar-Inhambane coastal forest mosaic.
Zanzibar-Inhambane scrub forest forms a quasi-continuous belt that separates the forests of the coastal region from the bush-lands of the interior. This forest reaches the Kenyan coast between Malindi and Lamu, where the rainfall is lower than elsewhere, and extends to southern Tanzania. Boni Reserve lies next to the Somali border, in the traditional dwelling region of the Boni hunter tribe, remaining only few hundred people to date. Dodori reserve is named after the river ending in the Indian Ocean at Dodori Creek, a breeding place for dugongs.
Both forest form the Northern most extent of the one-time continuous stretch of the East African Coastal forests biome that today remain as fragments of varying sizes and structure and they are one of the Earth’s 25 biologically richest places. They represent some of the most varied of ecosystems and provide a refuge for endangered mammals like the elephant, hirola and the wild dog, rare species found nowhere else in the world and hundreds of flora and fauna that are still yet to be described. Dodori River and its delta, has some of the densest, most varied assemblage of mangrove forest species in Kenya.
Dodori hosts a vegetal diversity mainly consisting of coastal and riverine forests, mangroves, swampy grasslands and savannah. Away from the rivers and channels, impenetrable thorn-bush is scattered with gigantic baobabs. At the Dodori coastal area, waterholes are frequently visited by gazelles, antelopes and water-birds. The Boni Forest National Reserve is in located in Garissa County.
The general area lies between 40°83′E and 41°66′E and 1°76′S and 1°25′S and covers an area of 133 KM². Dodori Forest National Reserve lies between 1° 50′ S, 41° 8′E in Lamu County and covers an area of 877 KM². The area’s climate is heavily influenced by the North-East and South-West monsoons blowing from the Indian Ocean. There are two wet seasons: April to June and October to December, and two dry seasons: January to March and July to September. Annual rainfall ranges from 750-1000 mm with temperatures ranging from a minimum of 15°C and 38°C.
Visitors are advised to coordinate with park management prior to any visitation.
Mombasa town is approximately 480KM from Nairobi and can be accessed through Nairobi-Mombasa Highway. By air, Mombasa town is 45 minutes from Nairobi.
Kiunga Reserve Park headquarters can then be accessed through road: from Mombasa, Malindi town is 118KM away. Malindi to Hindi in Lamu is 220KM away. From Hindi, using four wheel drive, the headquarters is 190 KM and the next stop over should be in Kiunga town. From Kiunga town, the headquarters is in Mkokoni which is 30 KM away.
Alternatively the park headqurters can be accessed through road, from Malindi to Mokowe in Lamu, 225KM away then by speed boat from Mokowe Jetty to Mkokoni an hour and half ride.
Lamu can also be accesed through air, from Nairobi, Mombasa or Malindi.
Along the road, at the town of Mangai, a track allows for wildlife observation at both banks of Dodori River. The easiest access is by sea, especially if you wish to watch the rich marine wildlife at Dodori. The creek, its channels and mangrove can be reached by boat or dhow.
Trees such as Brachystagia huilliensis (Muhugu) Combretum schumanii (Mkongolo) and Dalbergia melanoxylon (Mpingo) from these forests are the primary raw materials for the woodcarvings industry which is a vital element of the coastal tourism sector. The reserve also consists of mangrove swamp, lowland dry forest, marshy glades, and groundwater forest ecosystems.
Boni used to be a dry season refuge for elephants, with large concentrations during the dry season. No elephants are thought to survive here today following years of wanton poaching.
Common herbivores in these reserves include hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibious, bush pig Potamochoerus larvatus, warthog Phachocoerus africanus, buffalo Cyncerus caffer, common duiker Sylvicapra grimmia, topi Damaliscus lunatus topi and waterbuck Kobus ellipsiprymnus.
Carnivores include the Vulnerable wild dog Lycaon pictus, spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta, aardwolf Proteles cristata, leopard (Panthera pardus lion Panthera leo, cheetah Acynonix jubatus and black-backed jackal Canis mesomelas. Primates include the yellow baboon Papio cynocephalus and vervet monkey Cercopithecus pygerythrus.
Very little is known about birds with very few surveys done to date. As part of the East African coastal forest, the forest is likely to hold species characteristic of the East African Coast biome, possibly including globally threatened species such as Sokoke pipit. An expedition in the early 1970’s recorded the restricted range Fischer’s turaco and four biome characteristic species: Mombasa woodpecker, Fischer’s greenbul, chestnut-fronted helmet-shrike and black-bellied starling in Boni.