Lake Bisina-Opeta and the Lake Nakivale-Mburo wetland system are globally recognized as critical ecosystems for several endangered bird species. Lake Bisina-Opeta, designated a Ramsar site in 2006, is an extensive swamp of hippo grass that transitions into dry grassland savannah. Lake Nakivale-Mburo represents a varied system of wetland habitats that is adjacent to a protected area. In recent years, it has become clear that activities around both of these wetlands are degrading the ecosystems for both people and wildlife. The current project aims to build on an ecotourism initiative to save these unique habitats through the creation of jobs within the local communities.
BirdLife recognizes Bisina-Opeta recognizes it as an Important Bird Area (IBA), which means that the persistence of this ecosystem is critical to the survival of bird species. It has important habitat for Fox’s Weaver (Ploceus spekeoides) (NT), an endemic bird of Uganda that breeds in these wetlands. Papyrus Gonolek (Laniarius mufumbiri) (NT) uses the wetlands and, although not yet officially designated as endangered, it has become rare due to habitat loss. Bisina-Opeta is also important habitat for the threatened Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) (VU), which has declined due primarily to habitat loss. Another five globally threatened species have been recorded as well as 20 species of regional concern, including White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis) (VU) and Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) (NT), and Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus) (NT).
The most abundant species are Wooly Necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus), African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp), Hadada Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash), Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata), Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus bilineatus), Yellow-throated Greenbul (Chlorocichla flavicollis) and African Black Swift (Apus barbatus).
In Mburo-Nakivale there are 11 Afrotropical and 19 Palearctic migrants, including the Shoebill and Grey Crowned- crane (Balearica regulorum) (EN), and the White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) (EN). Similar to Bisina-Opeta, the wetland has a number of sensitive species and migratory species.
Our key partners are the Uganda Wildlife Authority and Makerere University Institute of Environment, Zoology Department.
The project activities include:
• Development of species action plans, advocacy and awareness plans, and investment plans.
• Implement conservation activities.
• Negotiate and create community protected areas.
• Demarcate biodiversity hotspots as areas for protection within the wetlands system and tourist potential sites.
• Develop and promote ecotourism products market.
The key goal is to obtain an increased area effectively designated as a special biodiversity protected area. This will be accomplished through an increased awareness of the value of wetlands to the community and government, as well as improved livelihood and local revenues from ecotourism and other services.
© 2012 Global Wildlife Conservation