Semuliki Forest Reserve was created in 1932 and upgraded to national park status in 1993 and is over 220km² with an altitude of 670-760m above sea level,
This park hosts over 441 recorded bird species and 53 mammals.
Large areas of this low-lying park may flood during the wet season,a brief reminder of the time when the entire valley lay at the bottom of a lake for seven million years.
Four distinct ethnic groups live near the park ie, the Bwamba farmers who live along the base of the Rwenzori and also the Bakonjo who cultivate the mountain slopes.
Batuku cattle keepers inhabit on the open plains and Batwa pygmies, traditionally hunter gathers, live on the edge of the forest.
Semuliki National Park sprawls across the floor of the Semliki Valley on the remote, western side of the Rwenzori. The park is dominated by the easternmost extension of the great Ituri Forest of the Congo Basin. This is one of Africa’s most ancient and bio-diverse forests; one of the few to survive the last ice age, 12-18,000 years ago.
The Semliki Valley contains numerous features associated with central rather than eastern Africa.
Thatched huts are shaded by West African oil palms; the Semliki River (which forms the international boundary for ugansa and congo) is a miniature version of the Congo River, the forest is home to a big number of Central African wildlife species, and the local population includes a Batwa pygmy community that originated from the Ituri.
As a result, this park provides a taste of Central Africa without having to leave Uganda.
While Semuliki’s species have been accumulating for over 25,000 years, the park contains evidence of even older processes.
Hot springs (Kitagata) bubble up from the depths to demonstrate the powerful subterranean forces that have been shaping the rift valley during the last 14 million years.
ACTIVITIES DONE IN SEMULIKI NATIONAL PARK
Birders who make it to Semuliki will be rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding.
The Batwa’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle means they have always been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools, though this is beginning to change as a result of interaction with other local communities.
Hike through the monkey-filled forest to these boiling, gushing springs, and cook your eggs and plantain in the bubbling waters!
Three tracks cross the savannah grassland of Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
The 13km KirumiaTrail runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. This approximately 8 hour round trip starts at 8am and is perfect for birders.
SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES
Birdlife is most especially spectacular in Semuliki with over 441 recorded species, and it makes 40% of Uganda’s total bird species and 66% (216) of the country’s forest bird species. The list is expanded by the riverine habitat and a fringe of grassland in the east of the park. There are numerous rarities; 46 Guinea-Congo biome species are found nowhere else in East Africa while another 35 can be seen in only two or three other places in Uganda. Five species are endemic to the Albertine Rift ecosystem. Species to look out for here include the Nkulengu Rail, Yellow-throated Cuckoo, Piping Hornbill, Red-billed Dwarf Hornbill, Black Dwarf Hornbill, Black-white-casqued Wattled Horbill, Red-rumped Tinkerbird, African Piculet, White-throated Blue Swallow, Yellow-throated Nicator, Leaf-love, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Lemon-bellied Crombec, Maxwell’s Black Weaver, Crested Malimbe, Red-bellied Malimbe, Blue-billed malimbe, Chestnut-breasted Negrofinch, Orange-cheeked Waxbill.
The forest is home to 53 mammals of which 27 are large mammals. 11 species are endemic to the park including the pygmy antelope and two flying squirrel species. It is also home to the peculiar water chevrotain, known as the “fanged deer”.
The park is home to forest elephant and buffalo which are smaller versions of their savannah-dwelling relatives. The forest is remarkably rich in primates including the chimpanzee, baboon,grey-cheeked mangabey, black-and-white colobus, Central African red colobus, blue, red-tailed, de Brazza’s, vervet, and Dent’s mona monkeys. Nocturnal primates include the potto and bushbaby. Hippos and crocodiles are common along the Semliki River.
SOURCE: Uganda Wildlife Authority
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