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Uganda Parks
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park
The park is part of the Rukiga Highlands, formed by upsurges of the western Rift Valley. They consist of old, Precambrian rock, much eroded and altered. Bwindi also contains he 2-sq km Mubwindi Swamp and a number of other, smaller swamps. Several trails cut through the park, one of which follows the Munyaga River as it tumbles down the steep slopes south-east of nearby Buhoma, flowing through a series of waterfalls. Zaire’s Parc National des Virungas provides a spectacular backdrop, and on rare clear days Lake Edward and the Ruwenzori Mountains are visible.
Although the park has at least 120 species of mammals, it is particularly known for its mountain gorillas. Other species present include chimpanzee, bushpig, giant forest hog, and tow types of duiker. There are a few elephant.
BIRDLIFE: 346 species, of which 184 are typical forest species. Seven species are listed as endangered. Of particular interest are the Kivu ground thrush, white-bellied robin chat, red-throated alethe, collared apalis, short-tailed warbler, yellow-eyed black flycatcher, Ruwenzori batis, blue-headed sunbird, strange weaver, and Shelly’s crimsonwing.
Tropical rainforest with a very dense understorey of thick growth. The park has an extensive stand of bamboo (about 6sq km). There are over 163 species of trees, 10 of which, occur nowhere else in Uganda and 16 of which show very limited distribution elsewhere in Uganda.
Kibale National Park
At the foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains, Kibale is a unique moist forest habitat. Guided forest walks lead you through the forest and along the Kanyanchu River.
The park supports a rich mammalian fauna that includes 12 species of primate, most notable of which is the chimpanzee. Other animals present include the bushbuck, red duiker, blue duiker, bushpig and civet. Rarer species are the buffalo, giant forest hog and forest elephant.
About 325 species of birds are reported in Kibale, a number of which are endemic.
Predominantly mature tropical rainforest, with some trees reaching heights of 55m. Dominant tree species include Parinari, Piteragota, Piptadeniastrum, and Cynometra (ironwood). In valley bottoms, waterlogged soils support swamp forest characterized by lower tree diversity and an abundance of semi-woody plants. Wide coffee grows in the park, as does a variety of medicinal plants.
Kidepo Valley National Park
The park consists of two shallow valley systems, with a rugged, dry mountain terrain. In the south-west of the park is the Narus Valley, bordered by the Napore range to the north-west. High ground separates this valley from the Kidepo Valley in the north-east. To the south of the Kidepo Valley is the Morungola range, and to the north is Mount Lotuke in Sudan. There is only one rainy season, which usually begins in April and ends in September.
80 species, with a wide diversity. Animals one can expect to see include zebra, large herds of elephant, eland, lesser Kudu, dik-dik and buffalo. Oribi are abundant, as are the almost-tame Apoka Waterbuck. A surprising 28 of these species do not exist in other parks in Uganda, such as the cheetah, greater kudu and Bright’s gazelle.
BIRDLIFE: the official checklist includes 462 species, with koppies and forest patches providing refuge for interesting species. Two birds that are not in other Ugandan Parks are the ostrich and kori bustard. Birds of prey include Verreaux’s eagle, Lammer-geyer and Egyptian vulture.
There is a variety of habitats within the park, including montane forest, grassy plains, open tree savannah, dry thorn bush, thick miombo- like woodlands, borassus palm forest and koppies (rocky outcrops).
Lake Mburo National Park
In the west of the park are a series of rugged hills overlooking flat-bottomed, open valleys. In the east are lower, undulating hills broken by rocky outcrops. All is complemented by picturesque Lake Mburo and four smaller lakes, plus several others that lie just outside the southern park boundary.
Animals likely to be seen include impala, buffalo, zebra, eland, Topi, duiker, Waterbuck, vervet monkey, baboon, klipsringer, rock hyrax, crocodile and hippo. Also present are Sitatunga, leopard, hyena & jackal.
BIRDLIFE: a wide variety of water and dry land species, including the rare shoebill stork, the Abyssinian ground hornbill, and the saddlebill stork. The forested areas of the park are home to Narina’s trogon.
A combination of acacia woodland, open grassland and wetland.
Mgahinga Gorilla National Park
Part of the 420-sq-km Virunga Conservation Area, where half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas make their home. The park comprises three extinct volcanic mountains – Muhabura, Gahinga and Sabyinyo – the peaks of which lie along Uganda’s border with Rwanda. Three extensive swamps lie in the saddles between the volcanos.
The park supports uniquely adapted animal species exhibiting a fairly high level of endemism. Mammals recorded include the endangered mountain gorilla, golden monkey, buffalo, elephant, black-fronted duiker, bushbuck, leopard, giant forest hog, side-striped jackal, Egyptian mongoose, serval cat, golden cat and spotted hyena.
BIRDLIFE: At least 185 species of birds have been recorded in the area, including 12 endemics. Among these are the handsome francolin, the Ruwenzori Turaco, and the stripe-breasted tit.
A typical afro-montane tropical rainforest, comprising a montane forest belt, a bamboo zone, an ericaceous belt, and alpine zone.
Mount Elgon National Park
Mount Elgon is the shell of a volcano, with a large caldera. Jutting westwards from the main mountain extends the Nkonkonjeru peninsula, a ridge about 20km long, which rises to about 2,350m. Although shy, many animals exist in the park, including buffalo, bushbuck, black-fronted duiker, tree hyrax and bushpig. Leopard and hyena also live in the park, and elephant have recently been returning to the area from Kenya. Primates include blue monkey, baboon and black-and-white Colobus.
BIRDLIFE: Many birds are present in the park. Particularly interesting and often sighted are Ross’s Turaco, casqued hornbill, gregarious hornbill, crowned eagle and Lammer-geyer.
Four altitunidal belts common on afro-montane systems: afro-alpine, subalpine or health, bamboo, and montane forest. Intriguing and unique plants include giant groundsel, giant lobelia and giant heather. Bamboo forests grow in the southern and western parts of the park, and shoots can grow up to 15m tall. There are also many beautiful wildflowers in the park.
Murchinson Falls National Park
The Victoria Nile bisects the park from east to west for 115km. About two thirds of the way along this stretch of the river are the spectacular falls from which the park derives its name. The park’s lush plains and woodlands are home to growing herds of animals.
The original checklist of mammals in the park includes 55 species. Of these the white and the black rhinos have been wiped out. Other animal populations in the park are rapidly regaining their numbers, particularly elephant. Other resident animals include buffalo, Rothchild’s giraffe, Uganda kob, hartebeest, Waterbuck, Oribi, bushbuck, Bohor reedbuck, Sitatunga, bush duiker, warthog and bushpig. There are six species of primates, including the chimpanzee. Large carnivores are represented by lion, leopard and spotted hyena. Nile crocodiles often bas on the banks of the Nile within the park.
BIRDLIFE: 424 species, including Goliath heron, Egyptian goose, pelican, bee-eater, kingfisher, hornbill, cormorant, and the rare shoebill stork.
The park terrain is dominated by rolling savannah and tall grassland with increasingly thick bush and woodlands in the higher and wetter areas to the south and east. Closed canopy forest is restricted to the Rabongo area, where ironwood predominates, and to certain riparian localities along the south bank of the Nile.
Queen Elizabeth National Park
The Kazinga Channel between lakes Edward and George physically divides the park into two sections, each of which has its own distinctive attractions. North of the main gate is the crater area, while on the eastern side of the main tarmac road are the wetlands of Lake George. The fascinating Chambura Gorge is also part and offers unique walking opportunities. The south of the park is more heavily forested.
The park is filled with grass savannah, open bush country, riverine forest, lowland rainforest and wetlands. The south of the park has open grasslands scattered with acacia trees and a remarkable floating fig forest that runs along the bank of Lake Albert.
There are large numbers of game in the park, including bushbuck, Defassa Waterbuck, banded mongoose, warthog. Uganda kob, elephant, buffalo, lion, hippo, black-and-white Colobus, red-tailed monkey, chimpanzee and Topi.
BIRDLIFE: Avifauna is particularly rich along the Kazinga Channel, where pelican, saddlebill stork, fish eagle, cormorant, skimmer and kingfisher are often seen. The shoebill stork may be seen in the Lake George wetlands.
Ruwenzori Mountains National Park
Six peaks carrying permanent snow; three with glaciers. Trails provide excellent hiking possibilities through the afro-alpine areas, traversing mountains streams and circling a number of beautiful lakes.
Primates predominate, including chimpanzee, Ruwenzori Colobus monkey, black-and-white Colobus, and blue monkey. Other mammals present are elephant, bushbuck, giant forest hog, hyrax and leopard.
BIRDLIFE: Some unique birds of the area are the Ruwenzori Turaco, handsome francolin, olive pigeon and white-necked raven.
Giant tree heathers, blackberry, cuckoo flower, everlasting flower, giant lobelia, giant groundsel, and a number of other plants unique to afro-alpine areas.
Semuliki National Park
The park lies in the Semuliki Valley, where the land is low and flat. The Semuliki River marks the western boundary of the park and the border with Zaire. Sempaya hot springs and several other, smaller hot springs provide interesting micro-habitats.
The park contains elephant, buffalo, leopard, civet, scaly-tailed flying squirrel, bushbaby, hippo and crocodile, as well as eight different species of primates. These include black-and-white Colobus, re-tailed monkey, baboon and vervet monkey
BIRDLIFE: There are around 100 species of birds in the park.
The only park in Uganda composed primarily of tropical lowland forest. There are also clearings of grassland, bits of swamp, isolated stands of oil palm, acacia, or ironwood and glimpses of bamboo swamp.
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