Murchison Falls National Park in Western Uganda is one of our favourite places to visit in Uganda. Located around 300 km from Kampala it is possible to fly to Murchison, or drive, stopping at the not-for-profit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary enroute (the only place to see rhino in Uganda). Combining Ziwa with Murchison allows you a chance to see the Big Five in one trip.
The park was first gazetted as a wildlife reserve in 1926 and is home to 76 different mammal species and 451 birds – it is Uganda’s oldest and largest safari area and comprises Murchison Falls National Park, Bugungu and Karuma Falls Wildlife Reserves.
The Falls themselves are where the Nile explodes through a narrow gorge and cascades down to become a placid river below whose banks are home to a great variety of wildlife including lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, hartebeest, oribis, Uganda kobs, chimpanzees, and many bird species too.
To the north you’ll find grassland and acacia woodland, perfect habitat for Nubian Giraffe and to the south of the river you’ll find more densely forested areas and Budongo Hill.
The optimum time to visit Murchison is June to late September or January to mid-March.
Murchison is a real success story, particularly when it comes to the conservation of giraffe. According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, in the last two decades the population of the critically endangered Nubian (Rothschild’s) giraffe has increased eightfold in Uganda.
“Murchison Falls National Park now has as many as 1,800 individuals; up from just 250 individuals 20 years ago,” says Julian Fennessy, GCF.
You can see giraffe in Murchison Falls, Kidepo and Lake Mburo thanks to the conservation efforts of GCF, the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other partners.
An important tool to secure a sustainable future for giraffe in Uganda is to increase their range within the country by establishing viable satellite populations. In January 2016, UWA with support from GCF successfully translocated a first group of 18 over the Nile River to the southern bank – Operation Twiga I. This new Nubian giraffe population was further augmented in August 2017, when 19 more giraffe were moved across the Nile River in Operation Twiga II. GCF provided significant financial support to both translocations, largely through funding raised during World Giraffe Day 2015 and 2018. After several births, the new population is now estimated at 45 individuals, indicating a solid and sustainable Nubian giraffe population in this part of the Park.
We are delighted to be assisting GCF through our charitable trust and Explorers against Extinction campaign in 2019. We hope to fund the translocation of a pair of Nubian Giraffe from Murchison to Pian Upe in Uganda. This pair will form part of a new breeding group of a dozen or so giraffe.