Lutoboka point (Ssese islands)

Site description (2001 baseline):

Site location and context
Lutoboka point is found on the eastern side of Lugala island, the largest (at c.200 km²) of the 84 islands in the Ssese island archipelago. Lutoboka point juts into Lutoboka Channel in Lake Victoria at the edge of Lutoboka Forest Reserve, a medium-altitude moist evergreen forest dominated by species of Piptadeniastrum and Uapaca. The most important area for breeding birds is the narrow strip of tall trees at the edge of the forest which is mainly within the Forest Reserve, but with small excursions into Kalangala town, the biggest urban centre on the islands. The edge of the Forest Reserve is covered by grassland, extending up towards the town.

Key biodiversity
See Box for key species. The only detailed study of the birds of the islands was by the Forest Biodiversity Inventory Team, and this covered only the forests. A general checklist of birds for this site has yet to be compiled. The IBA Inventory Team also visited some forests on Lugala islands and a few selected sites on the shoreline near Kalangala Township and Banga rocks at the end of Lugala island (the biggest of the Ssese islands). Two small areas were identified as important for breeding Phalacrocorax carbo: 5,000 pairs (nests) were counted in trees at Lutoboka and 500 recorded on the Banga rocks at the southern tip of the island. It is estimated that the non-breeding population on the islands is much larger than the breeding population. Other notable species, such as Ploceus weynsi and Ploceus castanops (a species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome), also occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: Lugala island has probably been isolated from the mainland for at least 12,000 years, during which time a rodent species, Pelomys isseli, has evolved on Ssese and Kome islands. Another mammal, Tragelaphus spekei (LR/nt), is said to have an endemic race on the islands. Other endemic species include three butterflies: Acraea simulata, Thermoniphas togara bugalla and Acraea epaea. The Ssese islands contain over 12% of Uganda’s known tree and shrub species. Lasianthus sesseensis, a tree endemic to Uganda, is known from Ssese islands, and the Forest Biodiversity Inventory Team recorded eight species that were not recorded in any other forest of the 65 surveyed in the country.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The conservation of the forests of Ssese islands is of considerable importance, both for these unique communities and for commercial use, including tourism. The wild-bird trade, although not as well developed as in some neighbouring countries, still threatens some species. Kalangala is believed to be the main source of illegally exported Psittacus erithacus from Uganda. Ssese and other Lake Victoria islands are exploited for firewood, charcoal and timber in an unregulated manner. There are currently also plans to encourage plantations of oil-palms on the islands. It is not yet clear to what extent this will cause encroachment on the remaining forest habitats. There is, therefore, an urgent need for the District authorities to be sensitized to the potential of the islands as well as the threats to their natural habitats.A serious threat to the IBA is the growing town, which is expanding into Lutoboka Forest Reserve. Already, a small section of the reserve, including parts of the breeding colony, has been encroached by beach developments and is earmarked for de-gazetting by the town board. As more developments come into Kalangala, the point will come under pressure by encroachers.The coverage of surveys for this exercise was limited and hence with further surveys it is likely that other forests in Ssese islands will qualify as IBAs.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Lutoboka point (Ssese islands). Downloaded from on 02/12/2023.