Uganda is one of the world’s most endowed countries which nature has blessed with abundant and spectacular natural beauty. There are up to 10 national parks and several other protected areas that are rich in biodiversity. The national parks include and offer the following:
- Murchison Falls National Park that supports huge populations of lions, buffalo, elephants, Uganda kob, rothschild’s giraffe, patas monkeys, hippopotami and birds as well as waterfalls, after which the park is named.
·Rwenzori Mountains National Park that protects the glacial peaks of the 120 kilometre long Rwenzori Mountains, popularly known as Mountains of the Moon’. This 5109 metre high mountain also supports evergreen and bamboo forest. It is an ideal destination for world class hiking and mountaineering.
·Queen Elizabeth National Park; flanking Lakes Edward and George, this park offers prime grazing to buffalo, elephant and various antelopes. It also accommodates the tree-climbing lions, giant forest hog and over 600 bird species.
· Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a forested reserve best known for superb gorilla tracking. However, it also provides refugee to elephants, chimpanzees, monkeys and various small antelopes as well as 23 bird species.
· Mgahinga National Park protects the Ugandan portion of the extinct and active imposing volcanoes known as the Virungas. These run along the border with the Republics of Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.).
· Semuliki National Park is an extension of Congo’s Ituri Rainforest and it accommodates about 40 Congolese bird species. Its neighbour and namesake, the Semliki Wildlife Reserve, which borders on Lake Albert offers incredible sightings of the enigmatic, swamp-dwelling shoebill.
·Kibale National Park hosts a population of more than 1000 chimpanzees. Of these, an 80-strong community has been habituated to tourist visits. There are also half-a-dozen readily observable monkey species for example, the acrobatic red colobus, black and white colobus and the handsome L’Hoest’s monkey.
· Lake Mburo National Park is a savannah reserve centred on a series of swamp-fringed lakes known for their rich birdlife especially, the secretive African finfoot. This park is also ripe with green acacia woodland surrounding the lake which harbours dense populations of zebra, warthog, buffalo, impala and several other grazers like the last surviving Ugandan population of eland, the largest of African antelopes.
·Mountain Elgon National Park is located on the Uganda-Kenya border. This park encompasses the 4321 metre high mountain after which it is named and it has the largest base of extinct volcano in the world. It also has a lush mosaic of Afro-montane forest, grassland and moorland habitats which, makes this park a highly rewarding destination for hikers and other natural history enthusiasts.
· Lastly but not least, there is Kidepo Valley National Park that is known for cheetahs, elephants and up to 1000-strong buffalo herds.
Text of Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
continue next 5 of September