Wildlife in Murchison falls National park – Birds and Primates
Wildlife in Murchison falls National park – Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest national park. It measures approximately 3,893 square kilometres (1,503 sq mi). The park is bisected by the Victoria Nile from East to West for a distance of about 115 kilometres (71 mi).
The park is the location of the Murchison Falls, where the waters of the Nile flow through a narrow gorge only 7 metres (23 feet) wide before plunging 43 metres (141 feet).
Also in the park, adjacent to the Masindi-Gulu Highway, are the Karuma Falls, the location of the 600 megawatt Karuma Power Station, which will be Uganda’s largest power station when it comes online circa 2018.
The park straddles the Ugandan districts of Buliisa, Nwoya, Kiryandongo and Masindi the nearest large town, to the Kibanda area of the national park which is about 72 kilometres (45 mi). This area is about 283 kilometres (176 mi), by road, north-west of Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda.
Murchison Falls Conservation Area and the adjacent Bugondo Forest Reserve have 76 species of mammals as well as Uganda’s largest population of Nile crocodiles, 450 bird species are present ranging from easy variety of water birds, including the rare Shoe-bill stork. Budongo’s 59 “restricted range” species dwarf Kingfisher, Goliath heron, White-thighed hornbill and Great blue Turaco.
Since 2005, the protected area is considered a Lion Conservation Unit. In 2010, it was estimated that only 250 Giraffes were in the park. A population of 37 Rothschild’s Giraffes were transferred from the north side of the Nile River to the south side in 2016-2017, when population was around 1,500
The park is home to 76 species of mammals including four of the “Big Five”, with huge herds of buffaloes and elephants, well-camouflaged leopards and a healthy population of lions. It is also known for its giraffes; in Uganda these can only be viewed here and in Kidepo Valley. Other species viewed regularly along the game tracks include Jackson’s hartebeest, bushbucks, Uganda kob, waterbucks and warthogs. Resident crocodiles and hippos as well as other, visiting wildlife are found along the river.
Olive baboons are common along the roadsides – be sure to keep car windows and doors shut if you don’t want to lose your lunch! Blue and red-tailed monkeys and black-and-white colobus can be found in the forested sectors. The savannah-dwelling patas monkey is only found here and in Kidepo Valley National Park. Around 800 chimpanzees live in the Kaniyo Pabidi and Budongo Forests.
The varied habitats of Uganda’s largest park make it home to a variety of birds with 451 species recorded. The list includes the Shoebill Stork, the Goliath Heron – the largest heron in the world – and pairs of elegant Grey Crowned Cranes – Uganda’s national bird. Also seen along the banks of the Nile are the Blue-headed Coucal, Swamp Flycatcher, Squacco Heron, African Jacana, Sandpipers, Denham’s Bustard, Abyssinian Ground-Hornbill, Black-billed Barbet, Black-headed Gonolek, Eastern Grey Plantain-eater, Piapiac, Silver bird, Weaver Birds, Pied, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-throated Bee-eater, White-browed Sparrow Weaver, Speckle-fronted Weaver and African Quail-Finch.