Lutembe Bay

Country/territory: Uganda

IBA Criteria met: A1, A3, A4i, A4iii (2001)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 800 ha

Protection status:

Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2012 medium near favourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Lutembe Bay is a secluded backwater at the mouth of Lake Victoria’s Murchison Bay, between Kampala and Entebbe. It is shallow, fringed by papyrus Cyperus papyrus, and almost completely cut off from the main body of Lake Victoria by a papyrus island. The dominant vegetation is a mosaic of papyrus on the open waterside, with Miscanthus and Vossia towards the dry land. The bay extends into a Miscanthus swamp and merges with forest remnants to the north and with a recently cleared horticultural farm to the north-west on the landward side. Its protection from the wave action of the open water facilitated the establishment and proliferation of the invasive water hyacinth Eichhornia, although that has recently declined. The bay and its associated swamps are important for the surrounding communities as a source of raw materials for local crafts, building, water for domestic use and, probably more importantly, fish as food and income.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Although Chloropeta gracilirostris has been recorded only once, in papyrus along the bay, it is probably under-recorded in the Lake Victoria swamps. Laniarius mufumbiri is occasionally seen in papyrus, but its abundance is not known. Three additional species of global conservation concern have been recorded: occasional Balaeniceps rex, Rynchops flavirostris and one record of Ardeola idae.A comprehensive inventory of all bird species that occur in the bay is currently being made. Regular waterfowl counts since 1993 show a total of 108 waterbird species at the site, of which 26 are Palearctic migrants. The bay regularly supports 20,000–50,000 roosting waterbirds and, therefore, qualifies both as an IBA and for designation as a Ramsar Site. However, numbers shoot up to 100,000–200,000 and sometimes many more between October and February when there are Palearctic migrants. An estimate of 1,000,000 Chlidonias leucopterus was made in 1994, and counts in July 1999 show that between 500,000–1,500,000 birds roost on muddy islets when the water-level is low. Clearly Lutembe Bay is one of the most important migration stop-over sites in the Lake Victoria basin and a major roost-site for many species, including large congregations of migrant waders. Many Phalacrocorax carbo also feed and roost in the bay, the largest number recorded being 1,448 in July 1998.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among mammals, the site supports Tragelaphus spekii (LR/nt) and Lutra maculicollis (VU).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lutembe Bay. Downloaded from on 26/09/2020.