Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary

Overview Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was established in 2005 to save white rhinos in Uganda after the poachers killed the last one in Murchison falls, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place where one can view or observe the endangered creatures in Uganda. Uganda was home to both black and white rhinos. However, due to poaching and habitat loss, rhino populations declined dramatically in the 20th century. By the early 1980s, rhinos were declared extinct in Uganda. In the late 1990s, the Ugandan government, in partnership with conservation organizations such as the Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), embarked on a mission to reintroduce rhinos to the country. The goal was to reestablish a viable rhino population and restore the ecological balance of Uganda's national parks. The sanctuary began with the translocation of six southern white rhinos from Kenya and these rhinos were carefully monitored and protected within the sanctuary with a primary goal of breeding rhinos and ultimately reintroducing them into Uganda's national parks. Over the years, the sanctuary has expanded both in terms of its rhino population and its conservation efforts. As the last update indicates 32 white rhinos from the 6 that started with the sanctuary through the Rhino fund Uganda and Uganda wildlife authority. Away from the rhinos, the sanctuary also has 40 mammals and about 350 bird species, savanna, woodlands, plants and wetlands that make it a perfect habitat for the wildlife. In addition to rhino conservation, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary promotes tourism and environmental education. Visitors to the sanctuary have the opportunity to participate in guided rhino tracking experiences, nature walks, birdwatching tours, and more. These activities raise awareness about rhino conservation and generate revenue to support sanctuary operations.   ATTRACTIONS Rhinos The sanctuary serves as a safe haven for these rhinos, providing them with suitable habitat and protection from poaching threats making them the main attraction to be enjoyed. The rhinos in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary are carefully monitored and managed by conservationists and park rangers. Efforts are made to ensure their well-being, including regular health checks, habitat management, and security measures to prevent poaching. Currently standing at 32 rhinos as of June 2021, one has a good number whilst out tracking. Wildlife Away from the white rhinos, the sanctuary has about 40 other mammals and some primates that can be observed once at the sanctuary. And these include the elusive leopards, crocodiles, hippos, oribis, bushbucks, waterbucks, kobs, bohor reedbucks, duikers and more with the inclusion of vervet monkeys and black and white colobus monkeys. Birds With over 350 bird species, birders are also sorted when they visit the sanctuary. Birds like Shoebill Stork: One of the most sought-after bird species in Uganda, African Fish Eagle, yellow-billed stork, grey-crowned crane, Red-throated bee-eater, pied kingfisher, marabou stork, African jacana, malachite kingfisher, hamerkops and many more. Flora The sanctuary encompasses diverse habitats ranging from savanna to woodland and wetlands; as a result, the sanctuary supports a rich variety of flora, including: Various species of acacia are common in the savanna, commiphora trees, ficus trees, wetland plants, savanna shrubs and woodland areas of Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.   ACTIVITIES Rhino tracking The sanctuary offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe rhinos up close in their natural habitat while contributing to their conservation. This is done on foot accompanied by guides and after a briefing has been done in regards to the safety rules and behaviors of the rhinos in the sanctuary. The tracking normally starts in the morning before the rhinos; once they are spotted one has the chance to observe them and take pictures from a distance to ensure minimal disturbance to the rhinos and this take about 2-6hours depending on the location of the rhinos. Birding The sanctuary’s diverse habitats of savanna woodlands, open grasslands, wetlands and water bodies support a variety of avian life offering bird watching opportunities with each attracting different bird species. With 350 bird species like African fish eagles, grey-crowned cranes, shoebill storks, herons, warblers, egrets, wood peckers, geese, turacos, sunbirds, Red-throated bee-eater, pied kingfisher, marabou stork, African jacana, malachite kingfisher and more, a birder with the help of a guide is has the opportunity to explore the sanctuary well. Whether experienced or not, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary will give you the chance to appreciate the avian life as you support the rhino conservation efforts at four different trails. Guided nature walk Guided nature walks give a tourist a unique chance to explore the diverse habitats with its flora and fauna. The walks always start with an introduction to the sanctuary with safety precautions highlighted to ensure a beautiful experience. As one traverses through the sanctuary, they will see different plants, trees, birds like African fish eagles, grey crowned cranes, and pied kingfishers; wildlife like bushbucks, waterbucks, kobs and primates like vervet monkeys. This is an experience that allows nature lovers of all ages to connect with nature and learn about how to preserve it or its heritage. Shoebill canoe ride This is an activity that offers one a chance to view the rather rare shoebill storks which is one of the most sought after birds in Uganda. With an experienced guide, you will head out in a canoe through the serene wetlands in search for the elusive shoebill and the guide will help you spot other bird species like egrets, herons, kingfishers and more. This takes about four hours, and a visitor will have a chance to take pictures once the shoebill is spotted inclusive of other avian life, wildlife and wetlands. Night nature walk These are walks that happen after 8:00pm with a park guide and takes about 3hours. It’s during this time that you will get a chance to see the nocturnal animals like leopards, aardvarks, porcupines, bushbabies, genets, civets, nightjars, owls, and various species of frogs and insects and others as you enjoy the night sounds and whispers which make for such beautiful memories with a chance to stargaze on clear nights. This activity allows you to connect with nature in a new profound way as you get exposed to the secrets of the night world. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary stands as a beacon of hope for rhino conservation in Uganda, demonstrating how dedicated efforts and collaboration can lead to the restoration of endangered species.
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