The Kenya government set aside the land in 1976 in order to protect the swampy forests of the lower Tana River and two endangered primates such as; Tana River mangabey and Tana River red Colobus which resides there.
The endangered primates inhabit sixteen patches of forest (ranging from 1 to 6.25 square kilometers) which extends for 60 kilometers down the meandering lower River Tana between Nkanjonja and Mitapani.
The reserve is a former 170 square kilometers (66 square miles) national wildlife reserve in south-eastern Kenya and it existed from 1976 to 2007.
It is situated approximately 350 kilometers east of Kenya’s largest and capital city (Nairobi) and about 240 kilometers north of Mombasa (Kenya’s second largest and first capital city).
Most of the area was semi-arid savanna but a small portion of about 13 square kilometers (5.0 square miles) was made up of small patches of riverine forest.
Despite a US$ 6.7 million World Bank Global Environment Facility project (1996 to 2001), conservation measures for the two primates (mangabey and red Colobus) have been largely ineffective.
In 2005, more than 250 families of farmers were relocated 90 km away to the coastal community of Kipini. In 2007, the High Court of Kenya ruled that the reserve had not been properly established according to Kenyan law and as a result, the reserve was de-gazetted removing all official protection of the area and its National Reserve status plus funding.
The lush river forest patches are remainders of western African forests and the reserve is a home to approximately 262 bird species and at least 57 species of mammals live there. There are several endemic tree species as well as a variety of other animals and plants.
Many of the bird and animal species in the reserve are rarely seen in East Africa, being typical of Central Africa’s lowland rainforest.
The white-winged apalis is extremely rare and the African open-bill stork, martial eagle, bat hawk, African pygmy-falcon, African barred owlet, Scaly babbler, black-bellied glossy-starling, and golden pipit are also rare in East Africa but can be seen in this reserve.
The reserve is bisected by Kenya’s longest river (River Tana) as it makes its way from a confluence of rivers near Mountain Kenya to the Indian Ocean south of Lamu.
The river is wide and brown and often swirling in these parts comprising of a steamy and tropical climate.
As the last bridge is at Garsen, it has to be crossed by ferry from the west side to reach the riverine forest belt covering 50 kilometers along the east bank of which the ferry crossing can be an adventure in itself.
Flood plains, old river channels, lakes and ponds all make this reserve a very special and unique destination offering memorable and colorful safaris indeed.
Some best accommodations in the reserve include; Tana delta camp, Peponi hotel, Majlis hotel, Tana garden hotel, Manda bay, Delta dunes lodge, and Kipungani explorer among others.
Therefore, travelers to the reserve will grab a great experience from there due to many interesting things that they will experience while staying in best and comfortable accommodations.