Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

Country/territory: Uganda

IBA criteria met: A1, A2, A3 (2001)
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Area: 32,700 ha

IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) Threat (pressure) Condition (state) Action (response)
2012 low favourable high
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Site description (baseline)
The park lies on the edge of the Albertine (or Western) Rift Valley and occupies the highest block of the Kigezi highlands, also known as the Rukiga highlands. It is located on Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The topography of the park is extremely rugged and much dissected, especially in the higher southern sector. The only flat area of any size is Mubwindi swamp (c.80 ha). The remainder (almost all forested) consists of narrow, very steep-sided valleys bounded by hill crests, spanning altitudes between 1,400 m in the northern sector and 2,600 m in the south.The forest is one of the largest in East Africa that contains both medium-altitude and montane forest in a continuum. As a result of its wide altitudinal range and relatively large size, and its probable role as a Pleistocene refugium, the species-richness of the forest is extremely high, for both flora and fauna. This forest is believed to be a mere remnant of a very large forest which once covered much of western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DRC. Today, Bwindi is an ecological island surrounded by one of the highest human population densities in Africa (100–450 individuals/km²). Immediately beyond its borders, there is virtually no natural forest remaining and much of the land is intensively cultivated.The Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation, which belongs to Mbarara University of Science and Technology, is based at Ruhija. The park is host to considerable ecotourist activities, particularly gorilla-tracking and birdwatching.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The National Park has been extensively surveyed for birds. Its checklist currently totals 347 species. Mubwindi swamp is home to Bradypterus graueri. Indicator pumilio is only known in Uganda, with certainty, from this locality. Some of the species endemic to the Albertine Rift, such as Pseudocalyptomena graueri, Muscicapa lendu and Cryptospiza shelleyi, have limited distributions elsewhere in their range. The park also holds Zoothera oberlaenderi, one of the six species of the Eastern DR Congo lowlands Endemic Bird Area (EBA 107). The northern sector is especially rich in species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome.

Non-bird biodiversity: Eight species of tree are known only from this forest in Uganda. Among threatened mammals, the forest contains about 300 individuals of Gorilla gorilla beringei (CR), roughly half of the world population of this subspecies, as well as Loxodonta africana (EN), Pan troglodytes (EN) and Cercopithecus l’hoesti (LR/nt).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Downloaded from on 08/06/2023.