The wide annual rainfall (from ca. 50 cm in the north to ca. 70 cm in the south) and altitudinal (580 m; 1,900 ft) gradients accross the Lolldaiga Hills, together with the proximity to Mount Kenya, contribute to considerable climatic spatial and temporal variation (e.g., temperature, rainfall, wind). This variation, together with soil differences (mostly reddish-brown sandy-clay loam and ‘black cotton’), occasional fires, and past and current land-use and management practices, has given rise to a complex mosaic of ecotones, micro-habitats (e.g., caves, ephemeral pools) and macro-habitats (e.g., streams, ponds, marshes, savannas, bushlands, woodlands, riverine forests, gallery forests, glades, dry montane forests).
As expected, the many habitats support a high diversity of plant and animal species, including a particularly rich large mammal fauna. All of the historic large mammal species for this landscape are present, including seven internationally threatened species (i.e., African wild dog, lion, cheetah, leopard, savanna elephant, Grévy’s zebra, black rhinoceros) and nationally threatened species (e.g., patas monkey, mountain reedbuck, Lelwel hartebeest).
The high species diversity of the Lolldaiga Hills is of international significance…and one requiring much more attention by field scientists and conservationists. It is to address this need, and to take advantage of a considerable research opportunity, that the Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme (LHRP) was established.