Leopard

Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.

Hunting Skills

The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. By dragging the bodies of large animals aloft it hopes to keep them safe from scavengers such as hyenas. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass. When human settlements are present, leopards often attack dogs and, occasionally, people.

Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.

Breeding

Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two grayish cubs with barely visible spots. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years—otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.

Leopard Spots

Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.

Lion

For all of their roaring, growling, and ferociousness, lions are family animals and truly social in their own communities. They usually live in groups of 15 or more animals called prides.

Lion prides can be as small as 3 or as big as 40 animals. In a pride, lions hunt prey, raise cubs, and defend their territory together. In prides the females do most of the hunting and cub rearing. Usually all the lionesses in the pride are related—mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and sisters.

Many of the females in the pride give birth at about the same time. A cub may nurse from other females as well as its mother. Each pride generally will have no more than two adult males.

While the females usually live with the pride for life, the males often stay for only two to four years. After that they go off on their own or are evicted by other males who take over the pride. When a new male becomes part of the pride it is not unusual for him to kill all the cubs, ensuring that all future cubs will have his genes. The main job of males in the pride is defending the pride’s territory. A male’s loud roar, usually heard after sunset, can carry for as far as five miles (eight kilometers). The roar warns off intruders and helps round up stray members of the pride.

Hunting generally is done in the dark by the lionesses. They often hunt in groups of two or three, using teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey. Lionesses aren’t the most successful of hunters, because they usually score only one kill out of several tries. After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next—and the cubs get what’s left. Males and females fiercely defend against any outside lions that attempt to join their pride.

Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, lions are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and cougars are also part of this grouping.

A thousand reasons you should visit Jinja

Jinja is a town in the Eastern Region of Uganda, located on the shores of Lake Victoria and lies in the North of the Lake. The origin of the name “Jinja” comes from the language of two tribes (the Basoga and the Baganda) that lived on either side of the River Nile in the area.

jinja city

Jinja is a town in Eastern Uganda, on the shore of Lake Victoria. The source of the Nile, at Coronation Park, is marked by a garden and a monument honoring British explorer John Hanning Speke. Owen Falls Dam and Bujagali Dam both span the Nile. Farther north on the river, Itanda Falls is known for its white-water rapids. East of Jinja, on Lake Victoria, Samuka Island is home to birdlife, including little egrets. 

ITANDA FALLS

ITANDA FALLS, are situated in Eastern Uganda along the Nile river, the waterfalls, replaces the Bujagali falls and are situated in an area approximately 30 kilometres off Jinja road and takes about 45 minutes’ drive on a clean road to reach the area.

Contrary to every other destination, Itanda waterfall is one of the very few unique tourist sites to explore and discover during safari trips in Uganda, where authentic African encounters are packed to you. As is the case at the root of the Nile, the path to these waterfalls is not. Itanda Waterfalls in Jinja are now unmarked as before in the Nile. The waterfalls are known by local residents as sacred places, a spiritual spot in which people who reside on the slopes generally come to the base of the tree seeking a visible blessing during periods of hardship.

THE SOURCE OF THE NILE

The source of the Nile river; the longest river in the world is found in Jinja and on its way to the Mediterranean sea, it encounters rocky paths which creates up-to fifth grade rapids making Uganda’s River Nile one of the best rafting destination in the world.

Apart from the adventuresome activities in Jinja, the city is also blessed with rich history and culture to explore on your Uganda safari tour. The top attractions not to miss-out on your tour to Jinja include not limited to.

MABIRA FOREST

The Mabira Forest is a rainforest area covering about 300 square kilometres in Uganda, located in Buikwe District, between Lugazi and Jinja. It has been protected as Mabira Forest Reserve since 1932. It is home for many endangered species like the primate Lophocebus uganda.

Dont miss

Guided nature walk

zip linning

bird watching

mountain hiking

butterfly hoking

BUJJAGALI FALLS

GRIFFIN FALLS

WHAT DO GORILLAS EAT? AND OTHER GORILLA FACTS

Gorillas, the largest living primates, make their homes in central and east Africa. They function in a well-developed social structure and often exhibit behavior and emotions similar to the human experience, including laughter and sadness. Poaching, disease and habitat destruction remain threats for gorillas, and WWF is working to designate new protected areas where populations can thrive.

Read on for some common questions about gorillas.

What do gorillas eat?

Gorillas stick to a mainly vegetarian diet, feeding on stems, bamboo shoots and fruits. Western lowland gorillas, however, also have an appetite for termites and ants, and break open termite nests to eat the larvae.

Do gorillas live alone?

Gorillas move around in family groups that can range from a couple of individuals to more than 40 members. A dominant male leads and holds the position for years.

How closely related to gorillas are humans?

Charismatic and intelligent animals, gorillas share 98.3% of their DNA with humans. They are our closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos.

What threats do gorillas face?

Poaching, diseases such as Ebola, and habitat destruction threaten the four gorilla subspecies; most gorillas live outside of protected areas. WWF works to designate new gorilla sanctuaries, such as in Congo.

How big do gorillas get?

Adult male gorillas weigh up to 440 pounds and can reach a height of six feet when standing on two legs. Mature male gorillas are known as “silverbacks” for the white hair that develops on their back at about 14 years of age.

How often do gorillas give birth?

Females have a gestation period of 8.5 months and nurture their young for several years. Generally, females give birth to one baby every four to six years. This slow population growth makes it harder for gorillas to recover from any population decline.

Does wildlife crime affect gorillas?

The illegal trade of gorillas and other great apes is a problem across Central Africa. WWF works with partners to monitor this trade and advocates for more effectively enforced wildlife laws.

Chimpanzee Habituation in Uganda

Kibale is special because it is one of the few places where tourist can do both the standard chimpanzee trekking or go for the Chimpanzee habituation experience. Chimpanzee habituation refers to the process of making chimps used to human beings around them. It takes about 2 years to complete the process. Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale allows tourists only one hour with the chimps after locating them. During the chimpanzee habituation process, tourists spend the while day with the chimps. Chimpanzee habituation experience and  tracking takes place all year round. However the best time to track chimpanzee is during the rainy season despite the mud. During the dry season, chimpanzee like to move deeper into the forests looking for food. During the rainy season, the forests are green and full of fruit reducing the mobility of the chimpanzee communities. Visitors can easily locate them without having to trek for long distance. It is always recommended that visitors book their chimpanzee permits months in advance. There is a limit to how many people can track a particular chimpanzee community each day and this depends entirely on which place you go tracking in Uganda or Rwanda. However in most cases, it’s 6 people per community in a single session. Chimpanzee tracking usually starts in the morning with briefing from a guide. Visitors cannot go out to the forest by themselves and must be led by a park guide or ranger. The rangers know where to find the chimp communities by following clues left behind. Moreover, habituated chimpanzee can identify the familiar faces of the guides which make them  reassured. In most of the parks and reserves where chimp visits are open to tourists, there are two sessions of tracking – in the morning and afternoon. The chimps are more active during the morning session as they head out feeding and hunting. In the afternoon, many of the members are resting and grooming each other as they try to find shelter to avoid the suns heat.

Chimpanzee Habituation Experience in Uganda

While on a chimpanzee trekking session, expect to be escorted by armed rangers/guards. The rangers scare off other wild animals like Buffaloes and elephants that may pose a danger to visitors by shooting in the air. The guides may also start by looking for them around the area that they built their last night nest. Tracking chimpanzee can go on for hours depending on the season and which park you are going to. However getting their exact location isn’t difficult like mountain gorillas that are relatively quiet with occasional barks from the dominant male. Chimpanzees are very stubborn, unruly and noisy. Trackers locate them by their hoots and loud barks. Once you locate a community, prepare to continue following them for a long time through hills, dense forest and vegetation – often at high speed. Be careful of falling fruit and urine from the chimps. The chimps may take a while before descending from the trees and settling down on the ground – be patient. Once they are on the ground, you will get several opportunities to take good photos and observe their individual behavior and character well.

Cheetah

Fastest mammal on land, the cheetah can reach speeds of 60 or perhaps even 70 miles (97 or 113 kilometers) an hour over short distances. It usually chases its prey at only about half that speed, however. After a chase, a cheetah needs half an hour to catch its breath before it can eat.

The cheetah’s excellent eyesight helps it find prey during the day. The cheetah is hard to see because its spotted coat blends with the tall, dry grass of the plains. Suddenly, the cheetah makes a lightning dash. It knocks its prey to the ground and then bites its throat. Once found throughout Asia and Africa, cheetahs today are racing toward extinction. Loss of habitat and declining numbers of their prey combine to threaten the future of these cats. Cheetahs live and hunt mainly in open grasslands and bushy areas in parts of Africa and the Middle East.

Cheetahs eat small- to medium-size animals, such as hares, impalas, wildebeest calves, and gazelles.

Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, cheetahs are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, and cougars are also part of this grouping.

GIRAFFE

Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammals, thanks to their towering legs and long necks. A giraffe’s legs alone are taller than many humans—about 6 feet . These long legs allow giraffes to run as fast as 35 miles an hour over short distances and cruise comfortably at 10 miles an hour over longer distances.

Behavior

Typically, these fascinating animals roam the open grasslands in small groups of about half a dozen.

Bulls sometimes battle one another by butting their long necks and heads. Such contests aren’t usually dangerous and end when one animal submits and walks away.

Height and Size

Giraffes use their height to good advantage and browse on leaves and buds in treetops that few other animals can reach (acacias are a favorite). Even the giraffe’s tongue is long! The 21-inch tongue helps them pluck tasty morsels from branches. Giraffes eat most of the time and, like cows, regurgitate food and chew it as cud. A giraffe eats hundreds of pounds of leaves each week and must travel miles to find enough food.

The giraffe’s height also helps it to keep a sharp lookout for predators across the wide expanse of the African savanna.

The giraffe’s stature can be a disadvantage as well—it is difficult and dangerous for a giraffe to drink at a water hole. To do so they must spread their legs and bend down in an awkward position that makes them vulnerable to predators like Africa’s big cats. Giraffes only need to drink once every several days; they get most of their water from the luscious plants they eat.

Female giraffes give birth standing up. Their young endure a rather rude welcome into the world by falling more than 5 feet to the ground at birth. These infants can stand in half an hour and run with their mothers an incredible ten hours after birth.

Population

Giraffes have beautiful spotted coats. While no two individuals have exactly the same pattern, giraffes from the same area appear similar.

Up until recently, the consensus has been there is only one species of giraffe with multiple subspecies. In 2016, some scientists released a study that claims genetic differences among giraffe populations indicate the existence of four distinct giraffe species.

African elephant

What is the African elephant?

African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. They are slightly larger than their Asian cousins and can be identified by their larger ears that look somewhat like the continent of Africa. (Asian elephants have smaller, rounded ears.)

Although they were long grouped together as one species, scientists have determined that there are actually two species of African elephants—and that both are at risk of extinction. Savanna elephants are larger animals that roam the plains of sub-Saharan Africa, while forest elephants are smaller animals that live in the forests of Central and West Africa. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists savanna elephants as endangered and forest elephants as critically endangered.

African elephants are keystone species, meaning they play a critical role in their ecosystem. Also known as “ecosystem engineers,” elephants shape their habitat in many ways. During the dry season, they use their tusks to dig up dry riverbeds and create watering holes many animals can drink from. Their dung is full of seeds, helping plants spread across the environment—and it makes pretty good habitat for dung beetles too. In the forest, their feasting on trees and shrubs creates pathways for smaller animals to move through, and in the savanna, they uproot trees and eat saplings, which helps keep the landscape open for zebras and other plains animals to thrive.

Trunks and tusks

Elephant ears radiate heat to help keep these large animals cool, but sometimes the African heat is too much. Elephants are fond of water and enjoy showering by sucking water into their trunks and spraying it all over themselves. Afterwards, they often spray their skin with a protective coating of dust.

An elephant’s trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things—especially a potential meal. The trunk alone contains about 40,000 muscles. African elephants have two fingerlike features on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items. (Asian elephants have just one.)

Both male and female African elephants have tusks, which are continuously growing teeth. Savanna elephants have curving tusks, while the tusks of forest elephants are straight. They use these tusks to dig for food and water and strip bark from trees. Males, whose tusks tend to be larger than females’, also use their tusks to battle one another.

Diet

Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day. These hungry animals do not sleep much, roaming great distances while foraging for the large quantities of food that they require to sustain their massive bodies.

African elephants range throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and the rainforests of Central and West Africa. The continent’s northernmost elephants are found in Mali’s Sahel Desert. The small, nomadic herd of Mali elephants migrates in a circular route through the desert in search of water.

Because elephants eat so much, they’re increasingly coming into contact with humans. An elephant can destroy an entire season of crops in a single night. A number of conservation programs work with farmers to help them protect their crops and provide compensation when an elephant does raid them.

Herds

Elephants are matriarchal, meaning they live in female-led groups. The matriarch is usually the biggest and oldest. She presides over a multi-generational herd that includes other females, called cows, and their young. Adult males, called bulls, tend to roam on their own, sometimes forming smaller, more loosely associated all-male groups.

Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment. Elephants have a longer pregnancy than any other mammal—almost 22 months. Cows usually give birth to one calf every two to four years. At birth, elephants already weigh some 200 pounds and stand about three feet tall.

Threats to survival

Poaching for the illegal ivory trade is the biggest threat to African elephants’ survival. Before the Europeans began colonizing Africa, there may have been as many as 26 million elephants. By the early 20th century, their numbers had dropped to 10 million. Hunting continued to increase. By 1970, their numbers were down to 1.3 million. Between 1970 and 1990, hunting and poaching put the African elephant at risk of extinction, reducing its population by another half.

In the years since, poaching has continued to threaten both species: Savanna elephants declined by 30 percent between 2007 and 2014, while forest elephants declined by 64 percent from 2002 to 2011 as poaching worsened in Central and West Africa. In 2021, the International Union for Conservation of Nature recognized them as separate species for the first time, listing savanna elephants as endangered and forest elephants as critically endangered. As few as 400,000 remain today.

Compounding the problem is how long it takes for elephants to reproduce. With reproduction rates hovering around 5 to 6 percent, there are simply not enough calves being born to make up for the losses from poaching.

African elephants are also losing their habitat as the human population grows and people convert land for agriculture and development. Elephants need a lot of room, so habitat destruction and fragmentation not only makes it harder for them to find food, water, and each other, but it also puts them in increased conflict with humans.

Conservation

The decision to recognize African elephants as two separate species is seen as an important step for conservation, as it highlights the different challenges that each species faces. Scientists hope that the listing will bring more attention to forest elephants, which have often been overlooked by governments and donors when grouped together with more visible savanna elephants.  

African elephants are protected to varying degrees in all the countries of their geographic range. They’re also protected under international environmental agreements, CITES and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species. There have been recent efforts to bring re-legalize the international trade in ivory, but those so far have failed.

Conservation groups and governments have worked to set aside land for wildlife—including corridors that connect those protected lands. Still, researchers believe that up to 70 percent of elephants’ range is on unprotected land.

To curb poaching, stopping the illegal trade is key. Advocates have launched campaigns that address both the supply side (poaching) and the demand side (people who buy ivory). There has been some progress in recent years, especially on the demand side: In 2015, China—believed to be the world’s biggest illegal and legal ivory market—agreed to a “near-complete” ban on the domestic trade of ivory. Since the ban went into effect, public demand for ivory seems to have fallen.

On the supply side, protecting elephants from poaching also requires a local approach. In 2019, a study showed that the suffering of elephants is tied to that of the humans living nearby: Regions with high levels of poverty and corruption are more likely to have higher poaching rates. This suggests that helping communities develop sustainable livelihoods could reduce the lure of poaching.

Hiking & Nature Walks in Murchison Falls National Park

Hiking and Nature Walks are among the top activities in Murchison Falls offering holidaymakers an opportunity to explore this vast wilderness on foot. Located in North-western Uganda covering an area of 3,840 sq km, Murchison falls National Park has varied sceneries and vast landscapes starting from the savannah plains, swamps, forests, the amazing wildlife, awesome culture and lastly the eye-catching magnificent falls on the Victoria Nile. The park harbors a lot of wildlife such as giraffes, buffaloes, antelopes, Jackson’s hartebeests, lions and elephants among others. Plant species like the whistling acacia, sausage trees, over 420 bird species, butterflies, and many more.

Most attractions in the park and around the conservation areas can be explored on foot, and although there are different trails that can be followed; tourists are only permitted to follow particular designated trails such as: to the top of the falls, in Rabongo forest and in Kaniyo Pabidi. hiking and nature walk adventures will be a great reward to Nature lovers and birders as they will reward you with great views of wildlife in Murchison falls National Park, birds and different plant life at a close range as they walk through low hills, gullies and riverine forests.

Hiking to the top of the falls

This is considered to be the most remarkable hiking trail in Murchison Falls National Park. the adventure begins with a boat ride on the Nile to the base of the falls at a point known as the ‘The Baker Point’ where its alleged to be the exact spot that early explore Sir Samuel Baker back in 1864 stood as he admired and appreciated the splendor and might of the waterfalls which he named after the then serving president off the Royal Geographical Societ – RGS which sponsored his expedition in Africa.

The boat leaves you at the base and you head for a 45 minute guided hike that will require some bit of physical fitness, while on this hike you will have a great time watching rolling hills, vegetation types, hear the thunderous roar of the falls and see different birds in Murchison Falls National Park. once you are at the top you will be able to watch the waters of the river Nile make their way through a small gap in the rocks about 8m wide hence forming a 45m fall as it drops down to continue with its course.

Nature Walks in Kaniyo Pabidi

This is an area of Natural forest in the Budongo forest located about 8km from Kichumbanyobo one of the park gates to Murchison Falls National Park along Paraa road in Masindi. It is a great place for hikes and nature walks and perfect to have a Uganda Chimpanzee Tour. Also other things to see are the big ironwood and Mahogany trees, various native medicinal plants and birds such as the Hornbills, Chocolate backed Kingfishers among others can be spotted. There is a camp site equipped with firewood and water found within the park so guest can easily find where to stay.

Rabongo Forest Walks

It is located in the southeast of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and approximately a 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Paraa. It is a great place for hiking and nature walks as well as primate watching tours with primate trekking. This area is encompassed with savannah grasslands and also here you find good forest cottages and a campsite. During your walk you can spot beautiful birds, medicinal plants, primates like vervet monkeys, black and white colobus, baboons, red-tailed monkeys, chimpanzees among others.

Best time to have a nature walk or hiking tour in Murchison Falls National Park is during the dry season despite the fact that the park can be visited all year round. During the dry season, the trails are generally dry and easy to traverse unlike in the rainy months when they are muddy and slippery.

There is also a 2 to 4 hour guided swamp walk to the Nile delta that gives you opportunity to see various ecosystems and also the rare shoebill stork especially if the water table is low.

Lake Nkugute.

Lake Nkugutte also called lake Rutoto is located in Rutoto Sub-county Rubirizi District. The lake is after a very small urban area only made vibrant by roadside matooke, yellow bananas, and passion fruit vendors.

The lake is tucked between Imaramagamba Forest, Omunkombe and Ryemondo hills. It is belted by Bushenyi-Kasese highway and surrounded by banana, pine and eucalyptus groves. Rutoto area is heavily populated and wooded.

The inhabitants are the Banyaruguru (the emigrants from Buganda), Banyankore, Bakiga and Banyarwanda who grow commercial trees, bananas, coffee and sugarcane.

Centre for tales
The lake has been associated with many myths and spiritual activities. For instance, it is believed the lake is in the shape of the map of Africa, is very deep and that it doesn’t have fish.

Another myth is that the lake has spirits that give wealth and that the water crosses the road thus, rampant road accidents near it. Many people carry out rituals on the lake.

Nyamwonyo who begun fishing on the lake since he was 10 years old has heard all the stories and also witnessed some of the bizarre incidents. In 2002, a bus belonging to SB Coaches collided with a fuel tanker at Kaziko on the southern tip of the lake.

The bus caught fire killing all the 72 people on board. This triggered the belief that the spirits in the water were responsible for the tragedy, that it was an act of sacrifice by the lake spirits.

The lake is a source of water and fish to the local community. There are about 20 boats and you can also find about 10-20 people fishing using hooks. There is tilapia and mudfish but not in big quantities, according to Nyamwonyo.

Though the lake is partly fenced and authorities prohibit any misuse, people directly bathe and wash from it, much as washing and fetching points in form of slabs are provided for.

The lake has also been reducing in size as a result of human activities of cultivation and construction. Nyamwonyo says some points where they used to throw hooks and catch fish years back are now banana plantations.

You can include lake nkugutte on your itinerary to Queen Elizabeth National park.