Uganda Wildlife Reserves
Uganda has 12 Wildlife Reserves home to various wildlife species. These wildlife reserves are home to various wildlife species ranging from mammals like the African elephant and vast forest and savannah primate species to the smallest of rodents. They contain a fabulous variety of habitats, ranging from mountains, and vast papyrus swamps to dark tropical rain forests and open savanna grassland plains. These diverse habitat settings are home to an impressive range of wildlife including over 1000 bird species, with many endemic and migratory species. Mammals include 4 of the big 5 animals and big game animals found in savannah national parks and rare forest primates. Wildlife reserves in Uganda include;
Pian Upe wildlife reserve
Pian Upe wildlife reserve is the second largest conservation area after Murchison Falls National Park. It is one of the most visited wildlife reserves due to its unique wildlife and savannah grasslands, home to cheetah, Ostrich, Buffaloes, and Giraffes among others. Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is located in Nakapiriprit District in North Eastern Uganda. Among the major tourist activities done in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve include guided nature walks, game viewing, Mountain Climbing at Mount Kadam, bird watching, and community visits for cultural encounters.
Toro-Semiliki wildlife reserve
The Toro-Semiliki wildlife reserve is particularly exciting for birdwatchers with over 441 recorded species of birds that include 216 forest birds and 80 Central African Species. The reserve was gazetted in 1926 and it is one of the oldest and best wildlife reserves in Uganda. Toro-Semuliki wildlife reserve is located between the Kabarole and Ntoroko Districts in western Uganda. There are many activities to do in this reserve and among them include bird watching, community visits for cultural encounters, boat cruise on Lake Albert, Shoebill sighting, guided primate walk, and forest walks and research studies.
Ajai Wildlife Reserve
Ajai Wildlife Reserve is located on the west bank of the Albertine Nile in north western Uganda – Arua District the Reserve sits on 166 square kilometers of land. Grass plains, sparse savannah woodland, and swamps would best describe the site’s topography. With Marabou stocks, African Fish eagles, and Grey-crowned cranes having their home here, birding is a must-do activity at this reserve. Nature walks and game drives can be taken by those who visit the Ajai wildlife reserve. You will catch a glimpse of the Uganda Kob, Hartebeest, Warthog, Hippopotamuses, Leopard, Oribi, Crocodiles, Python Snakes, Waterbucks, Sitatunga, Buffalo, Common Duiker, Olive Baboon, Black and White Colobus, and Vervet Monkey while on a nature walk or game drive. Plans are underway to reintroduce rhinos and the Nile buffalo given that the reserve was originally home to white rhinos.
Bokura Corridor Wildlife Reserve
The Bokora Corridor Wildlife Reserve is located in North-Eastern Uganda in the Karamoja sub-region and derives its name from the ethnic group of the Bokora people. It sits on an acreage of 2056 square kilometers. Birding at the Loporokocho swamp, hikes to Mount Kadam, and nature walks are the activities available at this reserve given the bounty of wildlife species and bird species. The most sought-after animals in the reserve include Rothschild’s Giraffe, Spotted Hyenas, Leopards, The Topis, Oryx, Oribis, Cheetahs, Reedbucks, Striped Hyenas, The Uganda Kobs, The Lesser Kudu, Buffaloes, Lions, Zebras, Roan Antelopes, and Elands. The Ostrich, Dusky Turtle Dove, Eastern Bronze-Napped Pigeon, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, The Hartlaub’s Turaco, African Hill Babbler, Alpine Chat, Jackson’s Hornbill, Mountain Yellow-Warbler, Black-Throated Wattle-Eye, Lemon Dove, White-Headed Buffalo-Weaver and Thick-billed Honey Guide are some of the birds to tick off your bird checklist while at the reserve.
Bugungu Wildlife Reserve
The reserve is nestled between the Bulisa and Masindi districts at the base of the rift valley escarpment to the western side of Murchison Falls National Park. It covers 473 square kilometers which are home to 600 Uganda Kobs, 1200 Oribis among other animals, and 240 bird species. The well-maintained trails at the reserve allow tourists the chance to enjoy a game drive, nature walks, and other activities such as community visits to experience the cultures of the people living near the reserve, camping, picnics, and bird watching.
Kabwoya wildlife reserve
Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve is found along the western rift valley trail between Murchison Falls Park and Kibale Forest Park and covers 87 square miles. Given that the reserve is in the Albertine rift valley region and therefore close to Lake Albert, fishing is a must-do activity while visiting the reserve. The ideal catch would be the Nile Perch although there are many fish species to choose from. The absence of predators has made guided hikes and nature walks a safe and fun activity to add to your to-do list when in Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve. The reserve’s topography allows mountain bike safaris as well as ATV Quad biking. A particularly rare activity in Uganda is Fossil finding but it can be done at the Kabwoya Wildlife reserve and is quite engaging for those on safari with children. The avid birder on a bird walk will find Kabwoya wildlife reserve a birding delight with over 460 bird species to see.
Karuma wildlife reserve
As the name suggests, the Karuma Wildlife reserve is known for its greatest feature; the Karuma falls yet there is more to this place than watching the dashing waterfalls. It is abundant in primate life and while on a nature walk here you are bound to see the Olive Baboons, Black, And White Colobus Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, and L’Hoest Monkeys. The reserve is also home to Buffaloes, Leopards, Rothschild Giraffe, Elephants, Lions, and Antelopes like The Uganda Kobs, Oribis, and Topis. Karuma Wildlife Reserve is located in Kiryandongo District.
Katonga wildlife reserve
Located on the banks of Katonga River, Katonga Wildlife Reserve‘s existence supports that of 40 mammal species. These mammals include the shy Sitatunga Antelope, African Elephants, Reedbuck, Uganda Kob, River Otter, and Waterbucks. Guided nature walks, hikes, and canoe safaris are the only possible activities in Katonga Wildlife Reserve. This is due to the absence of developed road networks making Katonga Wildlife Reserve a sanctuary best explored on foot and canoe.
Kigezi wildlife reserve
Kigezi Wildlife reserve is located in Rukungiri District in Western Uganda and covers 265 square kilometers. If your goal is to set your eyes on the African elephant, the Kigezi Wildlife reserve is the place for you. It is the sanctuary for elephants moving from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other animals that can be viewed include Kobs, Buffaloes Giant Forest Hogs, Bushbucks, and Topis as well as multiple Bird Species. If you plan to spend a night at the reserve, prepare to pitch your tent because there are no resorts or lodges within the reserve.
Kyambura wildlife reserve
Kyambura Wildlife Reserve is best known for its chimpanzee population making chimp trekking with the guidance of experienced guides the chief activity of this site. The reserve is a water source for the animals in Queen Elizabeth National Park which makes it a hotspot for wildlife viewing. The birder is not at a loss when visiting Kyambura because it is home to bountiful bird species including; Falcons, African Skimmer, African Broad Bill, Pink Backed Pelicans, and the White-Tailed Lark among others. A guided nature or forest walk should be added to your bucket list of things to do while at Kyambura. It would be a rewarding walk given the location of the reserve; northeast of Queen Elizabeth National Park and close to the Kazinga Channel.
East Madi wildlife reserve
In Northern Western Uganda, north of Murchison Falls-Amuru District is where the East-Madi Wildlife reserve can be found. The reserve rests on 831 square kilometers of land that houses 50 mammals, 181 bird species, and 374 plant species making nature walks, wildlife viewing, and birding some of the activities to do while at the reserve. Several primates can be seen including the Blue Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys, Vervet Monkeys, and Red-tail Monkeys
Matheniko wildlife reserve
Found in the Karamoja sub-region North East of Uganda, Matheniko Wildlife reserve ranks 5th in the most threatened protected conservation areas in Uganda. Despite that, the Lesser Kudu, Roan Antelopes, Bright’s Gazelle, and Ostriches (which can only be found only here and in the Kidepo National Park), as well as bird species including the Alpine Chat, Grey-Cuckoo Shrike, and Thick Billed Honey Guide, can be seen while touring the reserve. Matheniko Wildlife Reserve also has some ancient rock paintings said to date back to 3000 years ago. Birding, nature walks, and community and cultural visits are some of the activities to do while at Matheniko wildlife reserve.