Lake Mburo National Park

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
This is a relatively new National Park, having been gazetted in 1982. Hilly and upland areas dominate the north-western part and the River Ruizi and an interlinking chain of lakes occupy the southern parts. From west to east these are: Mburo, Kigambira, Mutukula, Kazuma and Bwara. The Park contains a wide variety of habitat-types, which give it a surprisingly high diversity of animals and plants for its size. Acacia trees are widespread in many areas, such as well-drained hillsides and low-lying hilltops—places which were formerly much more open and which provided good grazing for cattle and wildlife. The present extent of the Acacia can probably be attributed to overgrazing and frequent burning.Today, there has been a reduction in the diversity of large mammals, as a result of human activity which, over the years, has included hunting, eradication of tsetse fly Glossina, and habitat destruction through cultivation and settlement. Some large mammals, such as Loxodonta africana and Diceros bicornis, are believed to have existed in the area formerly, but have been extinct for many years. Others, such as Panthera leo and Hippotragus equinus, have disappeared in recent years. Rainfall is fairly low and tends to be erratic and unreliable, causing shortage of pastures and thus affecting the behaviour of wildlife and creating demands on the park by local pastoralists. The Park’s location near the Masaka–Mbarara highway makes it easily accessible from Kampala. There are a number of tourist facilities and an education centre.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The park has a diverse bird fauna, with over 310 species recorded. These include a number that have not been recorded in other parks in Uganda such as Ardeola rufiventris, Tricholaema melanocephala, Eremomela scotops, Euplectes orix and Cisticola fulvicapillus. Lybius rubrifacies, a restricted-range species, is occasionally seen, but is rare, probably reaching its northern limit here, and not known anywhere else in Uganda. The site is important for certain species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome, such as Bradypterus carpalis and Cisticola carruthersi, which are rare in other IBAs. The site has one Afrotropical Highlands biome species, Ploceus baglafecht. There are isolated records of two globally near-threatened species, Phoenicopterus minor and Gallinago media. Torgos tracheliotus occurs.

Non-bird biodiversity: Lake Mburo is the only National Park in Uganda in which the ungulate Aepyceros melampus (LR/cd) is found.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Park was formerly a Game Reserve in which 300 families, with their cattle herds, resided. Gazettement as a Park resulted in the entire population being evicted. This created hostility from the local people, a situation that was exploited by both local and national politicians to further their interests. A compromise, through which the park was reduced by over 50% to the present size, was reached in 1986.The animosity created between local communities and the park since its gazettement has persisted to some extent. The conflict is mainly over grazing and water. Approximately 20,000 head of cattle more-or-less regularly graze in neighbouring areas, which were degazetted in 1986. During periods of drought, the pastoralists look to the park for grazing and water. Agriculturists are also a potential threat to the park, since the wetter parts of the area, which was degazetted in 1986, are now under cultivation, and a settlement scheme has also been established on the fringes of the park. Crop-raiding by wildlife causes conflict. However, efforts to involve the communities in conservation and to sensitize them to the value of wildlife, coupled with other initiatives, such as provision of water outside the park, are gradually reducing these threats. A lot, however, remains to be done.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Mburo National Park. Downloaded from on 08/02/2023.