Initially it was a forest reserve before being announced as a national
park. Currently the national park is within the forest reserve which
encircles it. In April 1978 the area was designated a UNESCO Biosphere
Reserve. The national park and the forest reserve, combined, became a
UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
The Government of Kenya had four
reasons for creating a national park on and around Mount Kenya. These
were the importance of tourism for the local and national economies, to
preserve an area of great scenic beauty, to conserve the biodiversity
within the park, and to preserve the water catchment for the surrounding
The national park has an area of 715 square kilometres (276 sq
mi), most of which is above the 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) contour line.
The forest reserve has an area of 705 square kilometres (272 sq mi).
Combined this makes the area of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 1,420
square kilometres (548 sq mi).
A small portion of this park's borders
near heavy populations have electrified fences to keep the elephants
out of the surrounding farmland. Volcanic sediment in the surrounding
region's soil and the huge volume of fresh water coming down the slopes
makes the area particularly favourable for agriculture.
At lower altitudes Colobus and other monkeys and Cape Buffalo are prevalent