murchison falls

Oil exploration and wildlife in Murchison falls national park

Murchison falls national park, covers 3,893 with the Nile river dividing it into two parts. Budongo central forest reserve (825 makes up the southern banks of the river.

A habitat for primate species including over 600 chimpanzees, and black and white colobus monkeys. The northern part of the river is mainly open savanna interspersed with borassus palms, acacia trees, rift valley cliffs, and some dense thickets. The northern banks are a dwelling place for over 78 mammal species including 9050 elephants, over 1,450 Nubian giraffes (50% of Africa’s nubian giraffe population), and buffaloes. 

The park also boasts several antelopes such as Jackson’s hartebeests, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi as well as warthogs. The herbivores attract carnivores that are often spotted during game drives such as leopards, lions, and spotted hyenas. Small cats are also present such as serval cats, gentes, as well as mongoose, vultures, and African rock pythons. 

The white Nile flows through the park and creates the world’s strongest waterfall. The Murchison falls was formed as a river squeeze through a narrow gorge and plunges over a 45-meter cliff into the devil’s cauldron with a thunderous roar. A trademark rainbow is usually present due to light and mist. A second waterfall named Uhuru falls was also formed as the water levels of lake Victoria continues to increase, the magnitude of the falls have also become larger and spectacular for keen photographers.

murchison falls

After the waterfalls, the river flows towards Lake Albert and the actual delta wetland is located below the graben within the northwest part of the park. The Nile-Albert delta is a wetland of international importance (Ramsar site) with 415 species of birds including shoebill stork. Hippos, Nile crocodiles, monitor lizards, and many aquatic wildlife species also live there. With rich biodiversity and spectacular waterfalls, Murchison falls is one of the best national parks for a safari in East Africa. 

Part of the ongoing (on land exploration) Tilenga oil project takes place within north west On top of that, road construction works have advanced with a highway bisecting the park and the subsequent traffic flow. At Kacumbanyobo, the southern entrance gate, the road passes through Budongo forest to Paara, where the new bridge replaced the ferry. From Paara, the road connects across the savanna to Packwach and West Nile. Many people now traverse the park more than ever before.

There are also authorized construction works yet to be established for the storage of equipment near the Tangi gate in the north. All the steps of drilling, extraction and production are responsibly monitored under the national policy in the Article 244 of the constitution of Uganda. A plan is also in place to reduce and prevent any spills and other impacts that may damage wildlife habitat. However, there are very serious concerns about what to do with the changes happening to the ecosystem. The benefits of both oil and tourism to Uganda’s economy seems to be staked for gain or loss. 

A big shift in wildlife viewing

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The Wildlife Conservation Society of Uganda (WCS) study shows that large mammals have started to avoid areas where drilling or large construction works have taken place. Some 15 elephants from different herds were collared and have been monitored since 2016.

Data available so far indicates that wild elephants and other animals are gradually spending much time grazing in the east and areas around Paara and Tangi. As a result, game drives are much more fruitful in those areas than in the northwest. Visitors must take note of the game drive tracks  to get more out of their Murchison falls safari tour.

This is not to say that you will see nothing along tracks in the northwest around Pakuba area but rather a plan to guide your visit to the park. In fact, the game tracks towards the Nile Albert delta also known as the hippo pool offer opportunities to spot Nubian giraffes. Given that the area has open acacia thickets, Uganda kobs, waterbucks, Jackson’s hartebeest, warthogs, and sometimes lions can be found. 

Nile river boat cruise

The boat cruise along the Victoria Nile is a 17 km stretch from Paara sailing against the river towards the Murchison falls. This is a must-do activity for it reveals the changes taking place on the north banks of the river. As the water levels continue to surge, the banks have expanded creating enough room for elephants, and buffaloes to congregate in the afternoon. 

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