The distinguishing feature of this Reserve is the presence of Ajai’s Island, from which it derives its name. This island lies in the middle of a seasonally waterlogged swamp called Ala, which is fed by two rivers, the Ala and the Acha. It lies immediately to the west of the Albert Nile, and comprises permanent swamp (including papyrus Cyperus papyrus) seasonal swamp, seasonally flooded woodlands and grasslands. The vegetation consists of Echinochloa grassland in the swampy areas bordering the Nile, while better-drained higher ground carries tree-savanna of Combretum, Acacia and Terminalia. The River Nile forms the major drainage for the reserve in the east, while the Acha, Ala and Linya rivers drain the peripheries into the Nile. Between June and January of most years the swamp is flooded, cutting off the island from the mainland. This is one of the factors responsible for the survival of wildlife in the reserve.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. The reserve also holds four out of the 12 species that are restricted to the Lake Victoria Basin biome. A team of volunteers from Frontier Uganda surveyed the reserve in 1993, but the species list for birds remains incomplete.
Non-bird biodiversity: The reserve was specifically gazetted to protect the mammal Ceratotherium simum (CR), which is now extinct in Uganda due to poaching. The reserve still has relatively healthy populations of other large mammals, such as antelope and Syncerus caffer (LR/cd).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The major problem in this area is the expansion of fishing villages in the reserve, which promotes encroachment by the local people. The rebel insurgency in the northern part of the country and general instability since 1979 have paralysed government and local authorities’ efforts to carry out effective conservation work in these areas. Of late, the local authorities have expressed an interest in giving the reserve a higher conservation status.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Ajai Wildlife Reserve. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/01/2021.