Mount Moroto Forest Reserve

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Mount Moroto Forest Reserve is perched on top of the escarpment of the Eastern Rift Valley, east of Moroto town; its eastern boundaries are also those of the Ugandan border with Kenya. The upper parts of Mount Moroto are forested (totalling c.7,000 ha), but the reserve extends a considerable distance into savannas of various types, including Combretum woodlands, as well as bushland and tree/shrub-steppe.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The reserve is relatively rich in savanna birds, with a total of 220 species recorded, although the list is certainly not complete. Concerning Apalis karamojae, there is an old record from the slopes of Mount Moroto, and specimens were collected at the foot of the mountains in 1958 and in the early 1960s. However, its current status is not known. Moroto supports several species not known elsewhere in Uganda and has more in common with similar areas in north-western Kenya than with Uganda. Species such as Eupodotis gindiana, Tockus hemprichii, Mirafra poecilosterna, Tchagra jamesi, Eremomela flavicrissalis, Parus thruppi, Nectarinia hunteri, Emberiza poliopleura and Onychognathus salvadorii are not found in any other IBA or protected area in Uganda. Thirty-two species, including Tricholaema melanocephala and Nectarinia habessinica, are only known in Uganda from this north-eastern area. Four species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome occur.

Non-bird biodiversity: About 200 tree and shrub species were recorded in Mount Moroto Forest Reserve by the Forest Biodiversity Inventory Team, 22 of which had not been recorded previously from this floral region (U1). Among the 22 species of small mammal are three endemic to the Somali–Masai biome.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There are three communities inhabiting the slopes of Mount Moroto. The Tepeth people are the largest and most established population, the Kraals are scattered on the lower slopes and the Karamojong on the lower plains. These communities grow crops, and graze cattle and goats, and they rely on the forest for many of their basic needs, such as fuelwood, building poles and medicine (including the stimulant leaf locally called ‘mairungi’). Gold is panned for in some rivers flowing from the mountain. The mountain often acts as a refuge to warring tribes in the area—the Karamojong, the Tepeth and the Turkana on the Kenyan side of the mountain. As a result, there is extensive hunting in the reserve using automatic weapons and dogs, and most large mammals have been hunted to extinction.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mount Moroto Forest Reserve. Downloaded from on 27/10/2021.