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Sibiloi National Park

Turkana, Kenya
“The Cradle of Mankind”
Located on the wild and rugged shores of Lake Turkana – the cradle of mankind - Sibiloi is home to important archaeological sites including Koobi Fora where the fossil remains have contributed more to the understanding of human evolution than any other site in the continent. The area is characterized by semi-desert habitat and open plains flanked by volcanic formations including Mount Sibiloi, where the remains of a petrified forest can be seen. Sibiloi serves as a stopover for migrant waterfowl and is a major breeding ground for the Nile crocodile. Terrestrial wildlife includes zebras, Grant gazelles, lions, leopards, striped hyenas, Beisa Oryx, greater kudu, cheetahs and northern topi among others. A total of over 350 species of aquatic and terrestrial bird have been recorded in Lake Turkana. Sibiloi is surrounded by the Turkana, the Gabra and the Dassanach who are communities with very rich and unpolluted traditional cultures.
Key features
‘Skull 1470’, Homo habilis
Known as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ Sibiloi National Park was created to protect the sites of the many remarkable hominid fossils finds revealed by its searing winds. The park yielded its most striking treasure in 1972 when a 2 million-year-old fossilized skull was discovered by eminent palaeontologist Dr Richard Leaky and his team. The almost complete skull (labelled ‘1470’ by the National Museum of Kenya) confirmed the existence of a sophisticated evolutionary hominid named Homo habilis, the direct ancestor of Homo sapiens. Evidence of Homo erectus was also unearthed along with some 160 additional finds relating to the early hominids.
The Koobi Fora Museum,
At Koobi Fora which is to the north of Allia Bay, extensive paleontological finds have been made, starting in 1969, with the discovery of Paranthropus boisei. The discovery of Homo habilis thereafter is evidence of the existence of a relatively intelligent hominid two million years ago and reflect the change in climate from moist forest grassland when the now petrified forest was growing to the present hot desert. The human and pre-human fossils include the remains of five species, Australopithecus anamensis, Homo habilis/rudolfensis, Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus and Homo sapiens all found within one locality. Koobi Fora deposits, rich in mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains, has contributed more to the understanding of human evolution than any other site in the continent.
Elephant Site
Sibiloi national park is home to an elephant fossil dating 1.7 million years back and is one of the most magnificent archaeological findings.
Giant Tortoise
It is a 1.6 million year old fossil of an extinct tortoise. This is the shell and limb bones of a giant tortoise which is lying upside down and may have died by falling from a riverbank on its back.
The tempestuous ‘Jade Sea”
Lake Turkana is an isolated chloro-carbonate alkaline giant; Prolific Birdlife covering 6,400 sq Km. Its mercurial blue-green color has earned it the title ‘The Jade Sea’.
Crocodile Kingdom
Survivors of an epoch long before mankind, Lake Turkana’s estimated 12,000 crocodiles have not changed in 130 million years. Despite their monstrous size and formidable appearance, they are generally inoffensive creatures living in perfect harmony with their environment and feeding on the lake’s prolific fish.
Petrified forests
The largest areas of petrified wood lying around Sibiloi are the remains of a once-great cedar forest, which covered the Lake’s shores 7 million years ago.
Prolific birdlife
Sibiloi’s avian highlights include: Somali ostrich, Kori and Heuglin’s bustard, northern carmine and Somali bee-eater, chestnut-bellied sand grouse and fox kestrel. The Park is also famous for the European migrants that sweep across its skies between March-May.

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