This National Park is contiguous with Queen Elizabeth National Park (IBA UG007) in the south. It occupies undulating terrain on the main Uganda plateau, slightly tilted to the south, and is drained by the Mpanga and Dura rivers flowing in a southerly direction and emptying into Lake George. Well over half of the park (c.45,000 ha) is occupied by various types of forest vegetation that can be broadly classified as medium-altitude moist evergreen forest in the north, and medium-altitude moist semi-deciduous forest at lower altitudes in the south. So far, 229 species of tree and shrub have been recorded. While still a Forest Reserve, the area was subjected to varying intensities of logging and a number of compartments are at various stages of regeneration. The remainder of the park is occupied by grassland and swamp communities, some of which were planted with non-native trees of Pinus and Cupressus; these are currently being removed. In other parts, the grassland is being colonized by natural forest. The Lake George Ramsar Site (UG007) cuts across the extreme south-western corner of the park, south of Rwimi river. The Makerere University Biological Field Station is based at Kanyawara, towards the north of the park; it has a substation at Ngogo. There is an ecotourism site near the park headquarters at Kanyancu.
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. So far, 339 species of birds have been recorded, but more species are likely to be added. Most research has been concentrated in a 10 km² area near Kanyawara and the rest of the park is only rarely visited. Among the scarcer species are Apaloderma vittatum, Campethera tullbergi, Trochocercus albiventris and Cryptospiza reichenovii, each found in only two other highland IBAs. There are old records of Francolinus nahani, but more recent surveys failed to find this endangered species.
Non-bird biodiversity: The forest of this park lies close to the site of a postulated Pleistocene forest refugium in the Albertine Rift area. This has resulted in a diverse community of forest species, which also includes many Congo-Basin species at the eastern limits of their ranges. Four important timber species are of conservation concern: Milicia excelsa (LR/nt), Cordia millenii, Entandrophragma angolense(VU) and Lovoa swynnertonii (EN). The park supports a rich fauna, including mammals of global conservation concern such as Loxodonta africana (EN), chimpanzee Pan troglodytes (EN), Procolobus badius and Cercopithecus l’hoesti (LR/nt), as well as the butterfly Papilio antimachus (DD).
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Overall, 50% of Kibale National Park has been designated as a High Protection Zone because of its relatively undisturbed quality, and approximately 5% as a Strict Protection Zone. Changing the conservation status of this Forest Reserve to a National Park has now reduced the problems of agricultural encroachment and logging. However, most of the park’s boundary adjoins agricultural smallholdings. Crop-raiding by animals such as elephants, bushpigs, baboons, chimpanzees and others from the park, and the laying of snares in the forest by villagers, still contribute to strained relationships between Park management and local communities. Some illegal activities have been controlled by law enforcement coupled with improved public-relations initiatives by Uganda Wildlife Authority, supported by an IUCN project. Nevertheless, some illegal activities such as the harvesting of wild coffee, the hunting of mammals and birds (such as gamebirds) and the harvesting of non-commercial timber products (mainly for building and weaving) are still problems along the boundary where it adjoins populated areas.
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Kibale National Park. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 09/04/2020.