Hiking Trails in Rwenzori Mountains-climbing the Mountains of the Moon provides hikers an exceptional on-foot-walk experience. There are several amazing hiking and nature walking trails worth hitting on Uganda safari in the Rwenzori Mountains. The trails usher climbers to the splendid snow-capped peaks, surrounding areas while on hiking safari.
For those who are ready to hike to the snowy peaks of the Rwenzoris, there are various trails that have been developed and run by mountaineering companies. The enthusiastic hikers or climbers on Rwenzori trekking safari and need to challenge themselves with strenuous treks, the Margherita peak offers the most perfect option. Margherita is notably the 3rd highest peak in Africa and there are designated trails leading up to the peak.
The Rwenzori Central Circuit trail
The Rwenzori Central Circuit trail offers the most challenging Rwenzori Mountaineering adventure. This is Rwenzori’s oldest and most trekked trail by most climbers who travel to the Rwenzori Mountains for hiking safaris.
The Bakonzo inhabitants adjacent to the Rwenzori Mountains National Park manage the Central Circuit Trail. The central trail is incredibly less challenging and above all, it guarantees you exceptional views en-route including the primates, mammals, vegetation, peaks of Mount Speke, Mount Baker to mention but a few.
The Rwenzori Central Circuit trail is ideal for expert hikers on Uganda hiking tours. You hike starting from the Nyakalengija office at elevation 1646m. Hiking this trail leads you via Nyabitaba Hut 2652m and this distance is about 10kms from the briefing area. From Nyabitaba Hut to John Matte Hut, it is 7kms and John Matte Hut is at elevation 3414m. Other Huts include Elena Hut 4420m, Bujuku Hut 3962m, and trekking these trails may take from 4 days or more depending on your hiking speed. From Elena to Margherita it is 2kms and the 5th day can be used for hikers to make a return journey from 5109m. Guy Yeoman Hut 3261m is 8kms from Elena and 6kms to Nyabitaba Hut. In total, about 7-8 days will be required to make a complete hike if you are taking the Rwenzori Central Circuit Trail.
While on Rwenzori Mountaineering, Kilembe trails are one trail worth spending time and energy hiking through. This is the southern trail of the Rwenzori Mountains. Treks begin from Kilembe, which is near Kasese Town, and the trail takes you via Nyamwamba Valley. The trail offers uninterrupted views of sceneries, glacial lakes and as you navigate through, the trail links to Rwenzori Central Circuit at Lake Kitandara point. The Kilembe trail guarantees remarkable views of Mt. Baker.
Best time to visit
Hitting the trails of the Rwenzori Mountains is best done during the drier months of the year. This is from June to August, December to February-amazing months of the year when the park records the least or no rains. All trails remain drier and hikers enjoy a smooth hike through different trails in the Rwenzori Mountains National Park.
Where to stay
There are luxury, midrange, and budget accommodations readily available for booking by all nature-loving visitors on Uganda safari. The top hotels or lodges and camps/huts to expect to spend a night include Ruboni Community Camp, Mihunga Safari Lodge, Trekkers Hostels, Equator Snow Lodge, Elena Hut, Guy Yeoman Hut, etc.
How to access the Rwenzori Mountains
The Rwenzori Mountains/National Park is 5-6 hours’ drive from Kampala if you take Kampala through the Mubende-Fort Portal City route. From Kampala-Kasese, it is a journey of about 6 hours. While by air, flights can be arranged and visitors fly starting from Entebbe Airport or Kajjansi airfield to Kasese airstrip. For all road transportation to and from Rwenzori Mountains National Park, a 4×4 rental car should be a must to use.Read More
Like a treasure, it stays shy away from the buzzing Gulu town. Many know her as the 140-year-old scenic setting where Senegalese-American R&B superstar Akon shot the video for his song Mama Africa in July 2008. The four-minute video attempts to recapture the agonizing crucifixion that the Arab slave traders subjected their captives to between the mid-18th century and the end of the 19th century. This is Fort Patiko.
I can never forget our arrival at her bushy parking lot, which is a block from its gate-less entrance. We were welcomed by Salvatoria Oringa, the calm caretaker of Fort Patiko. He suggested we take a stroll around the two-kilometer-long pits surrounding the fort. The pits, which measure 16ft in depth and 16ft in width, were dug to make it impossible for slaves to escape from the fort — just in case they beat its tough security deployment.
As we advanced, we were swallowed up by towering wild grass and shrubs. By the time we maneuvered our way through, our clothes were covered with blackjack needles whose sharp tips pricked us mercilessly. We were also not spared by the thirsty mosquitoes in the pits.
Oringa said this humiliating walk was purposed to give us (tourists) a pinch of “the walk to oppression”, that the slaves endured as they trudged thousands of miles to Fort Patiko from different parts of central and East Africa.
Following these words, dead silence fell over our group, as odd imaginations going back to the slaves’ days filled our minds. Unlike us, who were fully dressed, the slaves were always stripped of their clothes.
Because there were no defined roads at the time, they were made to walk for miles in such vegetation, not to mention impenetrable forests which were often habitats to deadly animals.
When Oringa noticed we were getting carried away by these emotions, he was quick to re-route our attention to more adventure at the fort. In a hoarse voice, he asked us to follow him to the heart of the fort and there we found three roofless doubled-roomed houses built exclusively with sedimentary rocks and cement.
They were built on a low rocky hill, so the Arab architects saw no need to cement the floor. In fact, they made the most of this location by polishing the rocky floors smoothly, after which they creatively made striking inscriptions on it to give its occupants a feeling of home in this otherwise isolated setting.
“The roof was made out of thatch, so the houses enjoyed a chilled shade whose temperatures compare to that of today’s first-class air-conditioned suites,” Oringa explained.
Adjacent to these houses is two towering rocks at whose base there are dug-out caves that used to house the slaves. However, unlike the slave trader’s houses which were spacious and well ventilated, I hardly found a thing to admire about the caves.
It appears like more emphasis was put on digging them horizontally inwards than vertically, just like coal mines. Their height is about three feet high meaning the occupants (the slaves) could only get inside by crawling on their bellies. The cave was always jammed to capacity because accommodation was not enough for the hundreds of slaves who were held hostage here.
Tales of death
Oringa explained that from time to time, the slaves would be assembled at the fort’s sloppy compound where the beautiful, healthy, and muscular ones would be separated from the ugly, sick, weak and skinny.
The selected lucky ones would be dispatched for the Egypt and Sudan slave markets where they would be sold off to slave markets in the present-day Republic of South Sudan like merchandise. The unfortunate rejects who could not fetch high prices on the market would be executed by firing squad at the open torture chambers. “They were not set free because the traders feared that they would mobilise the local communities to fight off their cold-blooded Arab masters/traders,” Oringa added.
In a move to make the executions more entertaining, trumpeters would climb up the 18ft rock which overlooks the torture chambers. Up there, they would blow aloud trumpets to cheer the executors as they did their job. After these slaves were killed, their corpses were never given a decent burial. Instead, the bodies would be dumped in the pits surrounding the Fort where vultures would move in to finish the job.
All over the compound, one can observe sharp cuts on the rocks and Oringa explained that these impressions were made by the axes which were used to behead the slaves. “The lucky ones who survived the ax, were worked like donkeys yet fed on little food. Men were usually tasked with digging out more caves for accommodation while women did domestic chores like grinding tones of millet — sometimes till their hands bled.”
Locals believe that though slave inhumanity at Patiko happened centuries back, the spirits of those killed still haunt the fort. Simon Olweny, a resident in the neighborhood of Patiko claims that the nights are punctuated with wails of the ghosts of the slaves who are often heard pleading for their lives to be spared.
The sun shines at last
By the 1840s, it was impossible to maintain a deaf ear to cries against slavery. It was around this time that Sir Samuel Baker, an abolitionist adventurer, and representative of the Egyptian Khedive arrived in Acholi land.
With his band of Nubian fighters, he fought off slave traders from the fort around 1870 and took it over as a station base for his campaign. The same fort was later used by Charles Gordon who replaced Baker as Governor of the Equatorial Province and later by Emin Pasha. It was later used as a prison by the colonial government before falling into disuse for many years after independence.
Other tour activities at Patiko
In other news, Fort Patiko is beautiful from end to end, with amazing scenery which offers great photography. It boasts of lots of rocks that slaves were made to curve into models of different creatures such as sharks, the map of Africa, Lake Victoria and human heads among others.
The hilly fort also has antiquities such as the grinding stones that the slaves used for grinding millet. Florence Baker, whom the abolitionist had rescued from a slave market in present-day Bulgaria, left inscriptions of the Holy cross on the rocks at Patiko. Exploring the old fort gives one a feel of a day in the life of a slave.
How to get there
For someone traveling on a shoestring budget, you need about sh150,000 to tour Fort Patiko. One way bus fare to Gulu is sh25,000. Fort Patiko is about 50 minutes’ ride from Gulu on boda boda and costs between sh4,000 and sh15,000. The entrance to the Fort is sh10,000.
Unfortunately, there is no accommodation and there are no restaurants around the fort. Tourists are advised to bring their requirements such as food, airtime, water among others.
Budget accommodation facilities around Gulu town range from sh15,000 to sh70,000 per night, while luxurious facilities range between sh60,000 and sh200,000 per night.Read More
It is known, a common understanding generally, that world over, the most prized of treasures are not within easy reach. Think of diamond and gold as an example, yeah? It takes lots of resources, time, and dedication before one can have these jewels. But, aren’t they are worth every sweat? Precious jewels aside, did you know Uganda has many of those mostly curved into its boastful tourism sector. One such is Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, a conservancy in Eastern Uganda.
It is the second biggest conservancy in the country after Murchison Falls Reserve—and occupies nine Districts, the most renowned being Nakapirirpirit. It is a beautiful park of undisturbed savannah grass and woodlands. The kind of place which instantly steals one’s heart. The first thing that struck me during my first visit here a few months back was the softness of the air. It is hard to get over the pleasurable sensation with which they caressed my skin. That and the kopjes. I felt like they were hugging me.
Standing atop one of the anthills at the heart of the park, I saw a group of five ostriches wandering in search of food. They were overwhelmingly big and a few inches short of my 5.8ft height. On realizing my presence though, they abandoned their pursuit and spent much of their time staring back at me with very untrusting eyes. From their body language, it was easy to tell that it is not every day that they see tourists. That’s exactly one of the most electrifying things about this park whose name translates in Karamojong as “Friendly Enemy”.
Indeed, going by the visitor registration book at its control center, the park receives minor traffic as it is distant from Kampala. This gives the few visitors who explore it a feeling of privacy and being off the radar. It is partly for that reason that it comes across as a favorite for honeymooners; a good of whom further explore its neighboring pastoral tribes like the Pokot and Karimojong.
Pian Upe’s landscape is graced with resilient vegetation that can withstand the worst extremes of semi-arid weather. Mostly, they are wild and thorny; redwood acacia and desert date. Sustaining this flora is a swampy stretch that flows with life-giving water.
No wonder it comes as no surprise that that one is almost guaranteed of seeing all the species that abound its boundaries all year. In the category of carnivores, these include Jackals, Civets, Spotted hyenas, Servals, leopards, and cheetahs. For higher chances of encountering the latter two, a night game drive is highly recommendable as they are shy and elusive during the day.
Are you a primate lover? Well then, I’ve got four words for you; YOU SHOULD BE THERE!! There are countless Vervet monkeys, Patas monkeys, Olive baboons, and Ungulates looking forward to treating you to their fun side.
But also, herbivores range from Topi, Cape buffalo, Common eland, Roan antelope, Blue and common duiker, Günther’s dik-dik, Klipspringer, Waterbuck, Ugandan kob, Bohor and mountain reedbuck, among others.
If visiting the park during the months in which the reserve receives high levels of rain like April and June-September, a four-wheel drive is a must. The last 100 kilometers leading to the park is made of marram.
How to explore the park
Though game drives are an ideal way of exploring the park as it is so vast, nature walks off the beaten path offer detailed views/encounters of species. Park entrance is Ush10,000 for Ugandans.
Places to stay
There Four Bandas exist in the park headquarters, each costing roughly Ush30, 000-50,000 per person per night. There are also many lodges located just kilometers from the reserve headquarters.
Pian Upe headquarters are situated along Mbale-Moroto road, approximately 90kms from Mbale and 11kms north of the reserve’s northern boundary.Read More
View Uganda has fantastic offers around Uganda end in luxury.
I imperial group of hotels Entebbe one night half board bed, breakfast lunch or supper.
Brovad sands lodge Kalangala two nights a couple of full board.
Samuka Island Jinja two nights a couple of full board
Irungu forest park in Queen Elizabeth two nights full board a couple
Serenada eco-resort two nights full board a couple
Simba safaris camp Queen Elizabeth national park two nights full board for a couple
Buhoma lodge two nights full board for a couple Bwindi National park
Gorilla valley lodge Bwindi National park two nights bed and breakfast
Rushaga gorilla lodge Bwindi national park, bed, and breakfastRead More
As Uganda battles a bellicose swarm of plant-scavenging locusts, questions must surely be asked. Sadly, on a very disturbing note, that is, the actual topic that ought to be taking centre, remains mostly shelved. Shall we finally see the real discussion happening in Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and South Sudan? Could it maybe gain more prominence through the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a body that brings most of these countries together? “But why not just talk killing locusts?” you might be wondering.
In the thick of this, an interview with Richard Munang, the United Nations Environment Programme expert on climate and Africa, on the organisation’s site stood out. He blamed climate change for the locust invasion. “During quiet periods—known as recessions—desert locusts are usually restricted to the semi-arid and arid deserts of Africa, the Near East and South-West Asia that receive less than 200 mm of rain annually. In normal conditions, locust numbers decrease either by natural mortality or through migration,” he said. But something happened, he calls it the Indian Ocean dipole, it brought rain, lots of it, and now the locusts are here. What is the Indian Ocean Dipole anyway?
The Indian Ocean dipole
To climate enthusiasts, the Indian Ocean dipole is no strange discourse, but not to the ordinary man. In attempts to explain the extreme weather conditions that have since led to flooding and drought, the BBC explored the topic more. It refers to it as the difference in sea-surface temperatures in opposite parts of the Indian Ocean. They further explain that temperatures in the eastern part of the ocean oscillate between warm and cold compared with the western part, cycling through phases referred to as “positive”, “neutral” and “negative”.
Last year, the dipole’s positive phase brought with it warmer sea temperatures in the western Indian Ocean region, and more rains in the east. This they say explains why the Eastern part of Africa had lots of rain while South East Asia and Australia battled excruciatingly hot sun that would later fuel raving bush fires in Australia.
The UN’s Munang was onto something here, right? He maintains that while studies have linked a hotter climate to more damaging locust swarms, wet weather is also known to favour the multiplication of locusts. The Horn of Africa has received heavy rainfall from October to December 2019 with up to 400% above normal rainfall amount recorded, this is not a good thing. “These abnormal rains were caused by the Indian Ocean dipole, a phenomenon accentuated by climate change,” he confirms. Sadly, researchers say the effects of the dipole could get worse because of this very climate change.
Speaking to the UK’s The Guardian, Caroline Ummenhofer, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who has been a key figure in efforts to understand the importance of the dipole, said unique factors were at play in the Indian Ocean compared with other tropical regions.
While ocean currents and winds in the Atlantic and Pacific can disperse heating water, the large Asian landmass to the north of the Indian Ocean makes it particularly susceptible to retaining heat. “It’s quite different to the tropical Atlantic and tropical Pacific events. There you have steady easterly trade winds. In the Indian Ocean that’s not the case,” Ummenhofer said. Like Munang, she also believes it boils down to climate change. So what exactly is climate change?
The National Geographical channel simply defines climate change as a long-term shift in global or regional climate patterns, a thing researchers argue is only getting worse if not treated with urgency. But also, two words are thrown around every time Climate is discussed, that is global warming.
We decided to seek out the Oxford Dictionary for this one: Global warming is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide. But what does this even mean?
According to America’s National Resource Defence Council (NRDC), over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. Which is basically a longer phrase for global warming. The Science Journal explains that global warming occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases collect in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that have bounced off the earth’s surface.
Normally, this radiation would escape into space—but these pollutants, which can last for years to centuries in the atmosphere, trap the heat and cause the planet to get hotter. Or what NRDC refers to as the greenhouse effect. One of the biggest causes of pollution researchers argue is the making of electricity, industry and transportation. Made even worse by the intense deforestation, as the trees that help absorb some of this carbon dioxide have dwindled. So what needs to be done?
Right this minute, the UN worries the insects will devour crops meant for humans to eat. If East Africa alone has a mammoth 19 million people estimated to be starving, imagine the damage in years to come? These locusts can travel up to 150 kilometres (93 miles) in 24 hours and an adult insect eats its own body weight in food each day. The UN fears the number of insects could multiply 500 times by June this year. Imagine that!
In fact, whilst speaking to the Associated Press, Keith Cressman, a senior locust forecasting officer with the FAO said that in a few weeks the young locusts will shed their skin. “It takes a few days to warm up their wings,” he said. Some test flights follow and they’re on the move. The locusts at that stage are bright pink and in their most voracious state, like “very hungry teenagers,” Cressman said.
While the UN’s environmental arm acknowledges that climate change is a global phenomenon, it reckons that Africa stands out for its vulnerability. This is driven primarily by the prevailing low levels of socioeconomic development and the fact that a large chunk of her population relies on Agriculture. Wondering how this can be stopped, here’s a start: Plant a tree, dispose of all the harsh gas-emitting devices like the old cars and electrical appliances.Read More
UWA the body that manages the country’s wildlife recently released 5 Rothschild giraffes into North Eastern Uganda-based Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve. This reintroduction exercise will now bring the total number of giraffes to 15, 10 of which are females.
Presiding over the event, Dr. Panta Kasoma, representing the Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, that the re-introduction of giraffes in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is in line with UWA’s strategic objectives among which is the reintroduction of extinct species.
He maintains that the exercise was looking to uphold conservation and keep the animal populations fairly distributed and high. “Especially the endangered species, we must pay attention to them,” he said. We are happy that we now have giraffes in Pian Upe after very many years, and we hope this will further enhance tourism in the reserve.”
This will not only stop at the giraffe populace, as only last year but impalas were also transferred. “We translocated up to 92 impalas into the reserve areas,” UWA’s Charles Tumwesigye said. “These translocations are good, we have seen an increase in antelopes, zebras, cheetahs…”
This is an ongoing process, one that is expected to yield results, protect the endangered long-legged giraffe but also see it thrive in a place where its population is wanting.Read More
I watched with a pained heart as pictures of a flooding Kampala sauntered back and forth on the various social media streets. Like most of our realities, these had soon been turned into memes, hilarious memes. Boda-boda riders and obviously desperate passengers ploughing through the murky waters was a hit.
But once you put the jokes aside, and looked at the floods as a real problem, it was not funny. Not one bit!
Kampala is the country’s biggest city, and one would even argue that it is the only city really. That means we should be able to have tourists who want to see, live and explore the city. But how are we going to tell a busload of tourists that they can’t go to some parts of the city because they will be flooding? Get this, some of these flooded areas are journeys out of the city into the various destinations our tourists might be looking to explore. This, therefore, begs the question, how did we get here?
Uganda is a country of an estimated 44million people, about 20% of whom make up the urban population. So while 80% live in rural areas instead of the developing urban areas, major cities have been plunged into a population boom of mostly low-income earners who make up a large part of the city’s slums.
True, of the total of 259 urban centers in the country, Kampala was top among the destinations for many young people. Though Wakiso district takes the lion share of the population, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) places Kampala City’s population at nearly 2 million people.
Sadly with the country’s population generally growing at 3.26% annually with over 1million Ugandans born each year, many more will migrate into the city in search of greener pastures. Note that the district that is Kampala has an area of about 189 km2, of which 13km2 is Lake Victoria and other waterways. Sadly, these are not clear waterways as they have been burdened with our poor waste disposal habits.
To contain this population and its habits, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), the body mandated to run the city, has been left with a lot on its plate. A baseline survey Development Research and Training affirm these worries with daunting statistics.
While Kampala Central Division leads in access to clean water with 100%, in other divisions, access to clean water was as follows; Nakawa (45%), Makindye (66%), Kawempe (86%), and Lubaga (70%). Overall, 25% of households do not have access to safe water sources. Note that those in want of clean water live in the slums whereof nearly 50% of the city’s people reside.
But then again, many of these slums are right in the belly of our wetlands and nature is angry! But that will be for another day, for now though, let me wrap up this discussion with a picture of our un-organic waste, that among other things has been known to cause flooding. And by this dear folks, I am talking garbage, and specifically our un-organic garbage.
Did you know that the over 20-acre KCCA owned garbage collection point is choking with a chunk of un-organic garbage? Before it finds its way to this Kitezi garbage collection point, this garbage would have caused clogging in the already overwhelmed trenches. This, which includes plastic bottles, polythene bags, straws among other things, will render the overwhelmed drainage systems useless. This conversation is only just beginning!Read More
To quote the urban youth: “It is not a looker”. Not one bit! How the shoebill stork, (often just called the shoebill), which should be nowhere near the list of the most sought after birds then becomes one of the most sought after birds become bedazzling! Oh yes, it really is. Not only does it feature in the list of beauties, it actually tops it.
It’s named clearly curved out of its massive bill, which is a replica of a shoe, the shoebill is an excellent fisher. Many will even argue that it is unmatched. Scientists maintain that thanks to the sharp edges of its mandibles, this bird can reduce prey to mince. Just like that; the shoebill becomes one of the most fascinating birds to behold.
Like the Ugandans, the Shoebill’s life expectancy is 50 years and has been around for over 11,000 years now. True. Imagine a bird that has been around since the times of King Pharaoh of Egypt! Awesome, right? But this, researchers, worry could easily come to a screeching halt as fishermen have taken to killing this bird. They associate it with a bad omen, a thing that attracts bad luck whilst fishing. As a matter of fact, researchers at Nature Uganda, noted that there is a little under 1,000 of them left in Uganda.
They mostly seek solace in the country’s swampy areas and shallow lakes. Specifically, they have been spotted at Mabamba swamp, Lugogo Swamp in Ziwa Rhino Reserve, Lake Albert, the lower Nile in Murchison Falls Park, and Lake Mburo. To go on bird-watching in these places, one would need clear guidance and the internet is awash with these. Because it is a rare sighting, it would be also good to know which times of the day it is most seen.Read More
The beauty of a bird, like a fabric, is in its feathers. However, what screams beauty other than an enchanting color, right? These birds adorn colors so beautiful they could strut through the runway with such ease. And guess what, some of them which we shall now list are found right here in Uganda.
Great Blue Turaco
Tasked with explaining why seeing the great blue turaco was one of his top three moments whilst birding in Uganda, Bill Thomson, a UK-based author said, it was a beauty! “It is the only bird with some of their feathers colored by pigments found in no other creature in the Animal Kingdom,” he said quite enthusiastically. Thomson, also the author of Bird Watcher’s Digest, an internationally famed birding book, then said it was also the sound it made.
“At dawn or dusk, you will hear it give loud series of deep, ringing, throaty ‘kok-Kok-Kok or a bubbling softer tweet,” he imitated. He then cheerfully told of its agility at jumping from one branch to another. “The only times you’ll find it on the ground is when it wants to bath or quench its thirst,” the re-known birder said.
Talking length, it is 70–76 cm (28–30 inches) and 800–1,231 grams in mass. This makes it the biggest in the turaco family of birds. No wonder it is highly poached in Africa for its meat. It is mainly found in pristine tropical forests and swamps inclusive of Bigodi wetland, Mabira, and Budongo.
Green-breasted-pitta. Picture by Greg Miles copy
It takes skill to spot this bird. And oh, what a name, but that’s for another time! Though not as endangered as its counterpart the shoebill, it takes a truckload of luck to spot the Green-breasted Pitta. Easy on the eye, and most soft spoken, this bird boasts of a shimmery broad golden-buff supercilium and black and green plumage that facilitates their camouflage.
Tested bird-watching guides like Herbert Byaruhanga maintain that it takes skill to spot. “What makes it so had to come by is that it is quiet for much of the day,” he explains. “In instances when it wants to communicate, it whistles softly, sometimes so softly for its own ears to hear.” It would rather shy off into its perfect world of camouflage and gentle tunes.
To spot it, one would have to comb the forest canopies inch by inch with a sea of concentration, spot this beauty. Note also, that this is one of the fewer pitta species found on the continent. It strictly lives at an altitude between 1,100 and 1,400 meters. Kibale National Park has been known to be its most reliable sighting.
African Green Broadbill
Green_Broadbill. Picture by High Flying Tours and Travels
Ask many a birder and they will attest to its cheerfulness. The African Green Broadbill has no room for boredom. No Sir, not this bird! It shivers and trembles in excitement for much of the day while twittering squeakily. What a delight.
Largely a bright green with a blue throat and a small bill, the Green Broadbill is easy on the eye. It’s no wonder this little show-off is a tourist magnet, ranking among the five most sought-after species on the continent, especially because it is rare.
Though first discovered in 1908, this species according to researchers was next seen in 1928. Sadly, this bird is threatened by deforestation and habitat degradation. Its known feeds, seeds, fruit, flower buds, and some insects, are just as threatened. It is endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, like Rwenzori.
Call it the red, black and white affair. Its plumage is mostly a glossy black. Its belly, a showcase of red, gently joining the white patch on the lower back. Of the few countries that have this species, Uganda stands out as the most peaceful. The other countries that have it are the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Sadly, these have faced insecurity therein giving Uganda, the competitive advantage. Specifically, the widely blessed Kidepo Valley National Park is where it can be found.Read More
The day was Saturday, April the 18th-2015 when Letaba the lion first landed in Uganda. The Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) would tell of the joy that defined the moment. A then 6-year old Letaba, a donation to Uganda by the Lion Park- South Africa had arrived to help save the Lion numbers from
dwindling. Glee laced every word that came out of UWEC in that it could have been mistaken for the arrival of a human king.
Of his journey here they wrote: “Letaba went through the normal customs clearance and was immediately handed over to the waiting crew that largely comprised Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities officials, UWEC staff, South African Airways- Uganda Representatives, animal enthusiasts, media who drove the king of the jungle to the quarantine facility at Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) popularly known as Entebbe Zoo.”
It was infectious, and tourism, wildlife, and travel enthusiast really should have felt as excited as the UWEC folk were. Even the China-based CGTN would later join in with footage of a healthy Letaba observably at home. “Letaba, a seven-year-old lion has quickly made himself at home in his new zoo in Uganda. Letaba was successfully integrated with the lionesses at Uganda’s Wildlife education center. Conservationists are now hoping the lion will help grow the numbers of the country’s declining lion…” they captioned footage of Letaba.
UWEC further reported that while addressing the visitors that turned up to receive the giant cat, Mr. James Musinguzi, the Executive Director informed the guests that the donation was granted at the Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquarium Conference held at UWEC in May 2014.
“It was during this conference that the Director of Lion Park saw the need to replace our aging male lion, Kibonge, and offered their support for a male lion,” he said.
Even as we continue to mourn the death of Letaba, we can only hope that his cabs continue the work that he had started. Note that only recently a census was undertaken in Murchison Falls, Kidepo, and Queen Elizabeth national parks found that these big cats have reduced by 33% in Uganda’s game reserves over the last 10 years. They also found that the numbers here were down to 400 600 to 400 with Murchison falls losing the lion share and now down to just 130 animals.
You can therefore imagine how frustrating it was for conservationists to read that Letaba, a 10-year-old lion that would have probably helped sire more cabs had to be put out after a failed attempt to tranquilize him after he was in Mubende district. Many have argued that though it is doing a lot to educate the public, UWEC should have done better by Letaba. If not for anything, it should be because Uganda needed him.Read More