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Kibale Forest National Park

Kibale National Park is located in the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, approximately 320 kilometres, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. Fort Portal in Kabarole District is the nearest large city to the national park. The geology consists of rocks formed in the Precambrian period which are sedentary, strongly folded and metamorphosed. The Toro system overlaying these rocks forms prominent ridges of quartzite and sometimes schists and phyllites, which are intruded by amphibiolites, gneiss and granites. Some hills have layers of hard laterite exposed on them. About 90% of the Park is overlain by red ferralitic soils of which 70% are sandy clay loams in the North and 30% are clay loams in the South. These soils are deeply weathered, show little differentiation in horizon and are of very low to moderate fertility. The remaining 10% is where fertile eutrophic soil occurs on a base of volcanic ash limited to Mpokya and Isunga areas on the western edge of the park.

There are 13 species of primates in Kibale National Park. The park protects several well-studied habituated communities of common chimpanzee, as well as several species of Central African monkey including the Uganda mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae), the Ugandan red colobus (Procolobus tephrosceles) and the L’Hoest’s monkey. Other primates that are found in the park include the black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza) and the blue monkey (Cercopithecus mitis). The park’s population of elephants travels between the park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. Other terrestrial mammals that are found within Kibale National Park include red and blue duikers, bushbucks, sitatungas, bushpigs, giant forest hogs, warthogs, and buffalo. The carnivores that are present include leopards, african golden cats, servals, different mongooses and two species of otter. In addition, lions visit the park on occasion.
Bird life in the park is so prolific, boasting over 375 sited species of birds, including the western green tinker bird, olive long-tailed cuckoo, two species of pittas (African and green-breasted) and the African grey parrot, Imperative to note that the ground thrush (Turdus kibalensis) is endemic to Kibale National Park.
The park boast over 229 species of trees found within the moist tropical forests of the park. Some endangered timber species of trees include; Lovoa swynnertonnii, Cordia millenii, and Entandrophragma angolense. The forest understory is dominated by shade-tolerant shrubs and herbs, which include Palisota schweinfurthii and Pollia condensata, in addition to ferns and broad leaf grasses.

One of Uganda’s Best Primate Trekking Experiences

The 766sqkm Kibale forest National park lies a short distance southeast of Fort Portal, where it forms a contiguous block with the more southerly Queen Elizabeth national park. It was gazatted as a national park in October 1993 to protect the extensive Kibale Forest, arguably the most accessible large forest in Uganda. The park is well developed for tourism, with the prime attraction being habituated chimpanzees, seen here as readily as they are anywhere in the country. Guided walks are carries near the Kanyanchu Visitor centre camp site. The dominant vegetation type of the national park is rain forest, interspersed with patches of grassland and swamp. Lying between the altitudes of 1,100m and 1,590m above sea level, Kibale forest is classified as a transitional moist evergreen forest, showing elements of both Afro-montane and lowland forest.

Animal Species

At 60 mammal species are present in Kibale forest. It is particularly rich in primates with 13 species recorded, the highest total for any Ugandan national park. The nine diurnal primates found found at Kibale are vervet, red-tailed, LHoests and blue monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, red colobus, black- and white colobus, Olive baboon, and Chimpanzee. The Kibale forest area is probably the last Ugandan stronghold of the red colobus, following its recent extinction in the Semliki Forest. Visitors who do both the forest and Bigodi swamp walks can typically expect to see around fie or six primate species. Kibale forest offers superlative Primates viewing, but its not otherwise any easy place to see large mammal. The checklist of mammals in Kibale forest includes Lions, leopard, elephants, buffalo, hippo, warthog, giant forest hog, bush pigs, bushbuck Sitatunga, and petera’s red and blue duikers. The elephants found in Kibale forest are classified as belonging to the forest race, which is smaller and hairier than the more familiar savannah elephants. Elephant frequently move to Kanyanchu area during the wet season, but they are not often seen.

Birding Safaris

Roughly 335 bird species have been recorded in Kibale forest, including Prigogines ground thrush, the only bird that is endemic to Uganda and four other specie snot recorded in any other national park: Nahans francolin, Cassins spinetail, blue-headed bee-eater and masked apalis. Otherwise the checklist for Kibale includes a similar range of forest birds to Semiliki national park, with the exclusion of the 40 odd Semiliki species and the inclusion of a greater variety of water and grassland species. The forest walks are disappointing for birds: You will see a far greater variety of species in Kanyanchu camp or by walking along the main road through the forest. The best birding spot is Magombe swamp, where a four hour trail has been laid out, and experienced guides will be able to show you several localized species which you might otherwise overlook.

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