Most people focus on oceans and lakes when looking for fascinating water bodies to see during their travel. This is understandable given that most rivers have not set up official tourist facilities that allow people to appreciate the magnificence of the features. However, the Sabaki River has come close to that by having a public beach that allows people to walk along the riverbanks and enjoy its existence. Below are a few facts about this mighty yet highly underappreciated river.
2nd Longest River in Kenya
The Sabaki River is the last portion of the 390-kilometre long river. It starts out as the Athi River in Nairobi, flowing through the Eastern Province headed to the Indian Ocean. It is then met by the Tsavo River, which is considered a tributary, and there onwards carries the name Sabaki or Galana until it drains its waters into the Indian Ocean.
Largest River Estuary
An estuary is the widest part of the river. The part where the river opens up to drain into its endpoint also known as the mouth of the river. River Sabaki’s Estuary is the largest in the country and is considered an important bird location by conservation institutions including the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Important Birdlife Location
The Sabaki Estuary carries a large space of brackish water, which is ideal for many birdlife across the continent. In fact, the estuary offers a rare site on several full moon nights where tens of thousands of birds congregate to feed, mate and rest before continuing with their migration. The month of October is also considered a peak season for viewing the migratory birds in their numbers.
The most exciting part of bird watching at the Sabaki estuary is that it occurs on foot. There happen to be more than 40 species of birdlife during this peak season, a phenomenon not common in most rivers nor lakes. Some of the magnificent bird species recorded to be spotted are the Pranticole, Broad Billed Sandpiper, Lesser Flamingos, African Skimmers (though very few) Terns, Zanzibar Red Bishops, Curlews and Plovers. Most of these birds are migratory and often return to their home countries including Tanzania, Madagascar and South Africa.
The River Sabaki also hosts big mammals and reptiles in some parts of its course. These include Hippos, Crocodiles and Turtles. There are also a number of fish species living in the river that acts as food for the larger animals and birds.
At the estuary, thanks to the salty waters, some parts of the river support the growth of mangrove trees. Mangrove trees are considered endangered thanks to their increased exploitation and pollution of the ocean. They are also important parts of the ecosystem as they act as breeding grounds for fish and sources of shelter for some of the birds and animals.
Magnificently, the Sabaki River also boasts of having sand dunes along its shores. Not only are the sand dunes breathtaking and photogenic, but they are also significant in that they protect the inland areas from flooding during heavy rains. They act as walls between the river and inland areas.
Finally, the River Sabaki is an important source of survival for the locals. It provides fish for food and selling allowing the locals to generate income. It also provides water for the locals for their daily use and agriculture.