Semuliki National Park
Semuliki Forest Birds, True birders’ Heaven, Semliki Birding
It lies along the Uganda-Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the Rift valley. The park covers the eastern extension of the vast Ituri Forest. It forms part of the forest continuum during the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene and is one of the wealthiest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa most especially birds.
This park harbours a large number of predominantly Central African species which can not be found anywhere else in East Africa and these include some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought-after birds such as; the Long-tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Lyre-tailed Honeyguide, Black-wattled Hornbill, the Nkulengu Rail, just to mention but a few. There is a single, unconfirmed report of the globally threatened Lesser Kestrel.
Although this site does not qualify for the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome, it holds six species of this biome, including several that are at the extreme south of their range such as Piapiac, Red-throated Bee-eater, and PurpleGlossy-starling. Sixteen species of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome also occur in the Wildlife Reserve, as do four species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome.
Also look out for Blue Swallow, White-throated Blue Swallow, Swamp Palm Bulbul, Spotted Greenbul, White-starred Robin, Lowland Akalat, Red-throated Alethe, Fire-crested Alethe, Snowy-headed Robin-Chat, Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat, Red-eyed Puffback, White-tailed Robin-Chat, Northern Bearded Scrub-Robin, Capped Wheatear, Common Stonechat, Abyssinian Ground-Thrush, Oberlaender’s Ground-Thrush, Grey Ground-Thrush, Little Grey Greenbul, Toro Olive Greenbul, Mountain Greenbul, Yellow-throated Nicator, Western Nicator, Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike, Petit’s Cuckoo-shrike, Black Saw-wing, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Hawk, Red-thighed Sparrowhawk, Chestnut-flanked Goshawk, Grant’s Bluebill, Afep Pigeon, Blue-headed Coucal, Bates’s Nightjar, Swamp Nightjar, Cassin’ Spinetail, Sabine’s Spinetail, White-bellied Kingfisher, Shining-blue Kingfisher, Gabon Woodpecker, Hairy-breasted Barbet, Yellow-billed Barbet, Double-toothed Barbet, Black-billed Barbet, White-headed Barbet, just to mention but a few.
53 species of mammals have been recorded here, many of which are shy, elusive and nocturnal. Conspicuous species include Grey-cheeked Mangabey, Vervet, Red-tailed monkeys, Olive Baboon and Guereza Colobus, De Brazza’s Monkeys are rare and the Chimpanzees may seldom be heard than seen. Nocturnal primates include Pottos and Galagos. Chances to see Elephants, Bush pig, Water Chevrotain, Buffalo, Sitatunga, White-bellied Duiker or Dwarf Antelope, Beecroft’s Anomalure or Zenker’s Flying Mouse, exist. Also, the lively and agile squirrels such as Fire-footed Rope or Red-legged Sun Squirrel, the Little Collard Fruit Bat and the Target Rat, have been recorded in the forest.
Some butterfly species have been identified, including 46 species of forest Swallowtails and Charaxes (75% of Uganda’s total) and at least 235 species of moths have been classified as restricted. There are also 305 species of trees recorded, of which 125 species are limited to this park alone.
The Pygmies “Batwa” who settled near the Ntandi some years ago has turned into a major attraction, other people that live around here are the Bwamba, Bakonzo, Babwitsi, Batooro, and Babutoku.
From Kampala, two major roads can be used; Kampala-Fortportal via Mubende which is a 5-6 hours drive and Kampala-Fortportal via Masaka, Mbarara and Kasese (7-8 hours). It is in the far west, 50km from Fort Portal.