Shaba National Reserve is a protected area in northern Kenya to the east of the Samburu and Buffalo Springs national reserves. Together, the three reserves form a large protected area.
The Shaba reserve has dramatic scenery including river-side forests, scattered woodlands and dry grasslands dominated by the Shaba Hill volcano. The plentiful wildlife relies on waterholes and marshes scattered throughout the reserve. Shaba is home to the endangered Grevy's zebra and the rare Williams's Lark. Shaba was the setting for the book and film Born Free, for the film Out of Africa and for the reality show Survivor: Africa.
The reserve is a popular destination for tourists. There is some risk that excess numbers of visitors and growth of the local population around the reserve may place stress on the environment.
The Shaba National Reserve was gazetted in 1974. It is administered by the Isiolo County Council. It is just east of Samburu and 70 kilometres (43 mi) to the north of Mount Kenya. The Ewaso Ngiro river runs for 34 kilometres (21 mi) along the northern boundary of the reserve. Annual rainfall is between 250 millimetres (9.8 in) and 500 millimetres (20 in). The soils are sandy, volcanic in origin. The reserve is semi desert, dotted with isolated hills and plentiful springs. Shaba Hill in the south, with its volcanic formations, rises to 2,145 metres (7,037 ft) above sea level from relatively flat surrounding country. The land at the foot of this hill is rugged, containing steep ravines.
Shaba is smaller than Samburu Reserve and has more riverine forests, which contain acacia elatior and doum palms. Away from the river the habitats include Umbrella Thorn Acacia woodland, bush land dominated by Commiphora, alkaline grasslands and open areas of lava rock that contain scattered patches of grass and shrubs.
Although Shaba is greener than Samburu, game species such as giraffes and zebras are less common. There are many klipspringer and hyrax in the hills. Aardvarks, warthogs and bat-eared foxes make their homes in domed termite mounds in the shrubland. Common elands, impalas, Bright's gazelles and gerenuks (or giraffe gazelles) graze the shrubs, and zebras, oryxes and greater and lesser kudus graze in the grasslands. Shaba is well known for its large prides of lions, which doze under thickets of toothbrush trees during the day. At night, predators include golden and black-backed jackels, striped and spotted hyenas. The reserve is home to rare species that include the reticulated giraffe, Somali ostrich and the endangered Grevy's zebra. Other fauna include leopards and elephants.
Bird life is plentiful in Shaba, and similar to that of the Samburu and Buffalo Springs National Reserves. The near-threatened and poorly known Williams's Lark is found in the reserve in regions of rocky lava semi-desert with low Barleria shrubs. It has not been seen in any other protected area. The reserve lies on the migration route from the Palearctic for the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel, a few of whom pass through each year. Shaba is also home to regionally-threatened birds that include the sporadically visiting African Darter and Great Egret and the resident White-headed Vulture, Martial Eagle and Yellow-billed Oxpecker, the last of which is fairly common.