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Birding Experience in Kibale Forest and Bigodi Wetland

Birding Experience in Kibale Forest and Bigodi Wetland

Kibale forest is one of the most attractive national parks situated in western Uganda at 766km2 encompassing primarily moist evergreen forest. Kibale is one of the remaining forests that contain both lowland and montane forest and sustains the last expanse of pre-montane forest. Gazetted in 1932 and formally established in 1993 to protect a large of the forest previously managed as a logged forest reserve. In 1948, Kibale become a forest reserve under the British control that continued to cut down trees only so they could plant exotic tree species in areas where trees had been cut. Uganda Wildlife Authority took over control in 1993 and ensured the return of authenticity of Kibale Forest national park. In a bid to ensure conserving Kibale forest, about 13,000 people were evicted and relocated to Kibaale district in 1992.

Since its establishment, Kibale Forest National Park has been managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) with the goal of conserving its unique biodiversity. The park is known for its population of chimpanzees, as well as other primates such as red colobus monkeys and L’hoest’s monkeys. It also supports a diverse array of bird species, including several Albertine Rift endemics. Kibale Forest has become a hub for scientific research, particularly in the field of primatology. Researchers from around the world study the behavior, ecology, and conservation of chimpanzees and other primates in the park. Additionally, Kibale Forest National Park has become a popular destination for ecotourism and wildlife viewing, attracting visitors who come to experience its natural beauty and observe its diverse wildlife.

Kibale Forest is blessed with trails like Bigodi wetland sanctuary which has about 138 species like the rare shoebill stork, great blue turaco, greenbul, barbet, blue-breasted kingfisher, weaver birds, black bee-eaters, flycatchers, Abyssinian ground thrush, crowned eagle, sunbirds, gonoleks and many more making it one of the popular trails; Kanyanchu primate walk located near the visitor center known for its primate viewing opportunities however avails diverse habitats where a variety of bird species like turacos, hornbills and forest dwelling birds; Sebitoli Forest camp located north of Kibale forest which also provides both primates and birds in their natural habitat with sunbirds, barbets and more; Kihingami wetland near Kihingami village and one will have a chance to observe wetland species, forest-edge and migratory birds with opportunities to spot waterfowl, kingfishers and more and many others.

Kibale Forest offers birdwatchers the chance to explore one of Uganda’s most biodiverse and bird- rich habitats with over 370 species of birds making it a premier birding destination in Uganda. Located in the Albertine rift region, Kibale is blessed with 6 endemics on top of the other species like red-faced woodland warbler, black-capped apalis, collared apalis, dusky crimsonwing, blue-headed sunbird, purple-breasted sunbird, black bee-eater, green-breasted pitta, nahan’s francolin, red-chested owlet, Cassin’s spinetail, crowned eagle, western nicator, green bull, white-nipped pigeon, yellow-rumped tinkerbird, flycatchers, barbets, kingfishers, black cuckoo, brown illadopsis, bushshrikes, black-billed turaco and more.

Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary offers a unique and rewarding experience, with opportunities to observe a diverse array of bird species in a beautiful wetland habitat. With over 150 bird species, the wetland is a prime birdwatching destination in Uganda. The sanctuary’s diverse habitats, including papyrus swamps, wetlands, and forested areas, support a wide variety of birdlife, from waterfowl and waders to forest-dwelling species and migratory birds. In addition to its rich birdlife, Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary boasts stunning natural beauty, with its tranquil wetlands, towering papyrus stands, and lush vegetation creating a picturesque backdrop for birdwatching excursions. Birdwatchers can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the wetland ecosystem while searching for feathered treasures like the rare shoebill stork, great blue turaco, greenbul, barbets, blue-breasted kingfisher, weaver birds, black bee-eaters, flycatchers, fluff tail, Abyssinian ground thrush, crowned eagles, sunbirds, gonolek, hornbills, African pitta, apalis, tinker bird, dusky crimsonwing and many more.

The forest being a diverse habitat, it is also very popular for primates like Chimpanzees and is often combined with birding as it’s a spot that ensures the conservation of chimpanzees. Kibale Forest and Bigodi wetland boast stunning natural beauty, with towering trees, lush vegetation, and picturesque forest streams. Birdwatchers can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the forest while searching for feathered treasures.

The best time to go bird watching in Kibale and or Bigodi wetland is during the months of March-May, September- November and June-September as food is abundant and many birds are breeding which increases the number of bird species that one can see while viewing. For a full experience, birding must be done with an experienced guide who will give you all and any information as needed, understands and knows the birds and bird calls and they also know the best spots depending on the tourist’s desires. The forest is on a journey of conservation efforts, from its early recognition as a valuable natural resource to its establishment as a protected area dedicated to preserving its ecological integrity and biodiversity for future generations.

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