Best Places in Uganda for seeing Shoebill Storks – Uganda is the only place in Africa where 95% of one has a chance to see shoebill stork on one single Uganda safari. The Shoebill stork is one of the prodigious bird species in Africa and in the world. One does not need to be a bird watcher to fall in love and get thrilled when you finally see a shoebill stork, it is a remarkable bird and it is astonishing to see it on your African safari.
The shoebill is an indefinable primeval bird whose history takes you back to the fossil times. The shoebill has for a long time been misbranded as a stork until lately when it was reclassified as a Pelican.
It has got the name of “the most sought-after” of all the birds of the African continent. You don’t need to be a bird watcher to get enthusiastic when you see it. The bird is so amazing and the most astounding bird to discover in Uganda!
Do you know that the shoebill stork can live between 35 to 50 years? They lay eggs similar to pelicans and hence share DNA similarities. The shoebill usually comes in between 40 and 50 inches, although it may be slightly larger than this depending on the individual bird. Male shoebill birds usually weigh around 12 pounds and are a little bit heavier than female shoebills, but not by far. All shoebill birds have huge shoe-like bills and feature grey fluff that is brown when they’re younger.
They have a large wingspan meant for mounting and short necks, unlike their stork and pelican relatives. Although their body and wings are shaped like a condor, shoebills are not related to this type of bird.
Shoebill storks like keeping around in open areas, which is one of the reasons why Uganda is considered the best place to see shoebills in Africa with 17% of Uganda’s surface covered by fresh water lakes, rivers, and swamps.
Below are the best places in Uganda for seeing Shoebill Storks;
Mabamba Swamp on Lake Victoria
Mabamba swamp is the best place to see shoebill stork in Africa and the only place in the world where one has a 95% chance of seeing them. Mabamba Swamp is home to the defenseless shoebill Stork which can easily be accessed from Entebbe using a traditional motorized canoe. It is located just one hour drive from Entebbe and Kampala thus one can visit Mbamba at the beginning or at the end of his/ her Uganda safari.
Mabamba wetland is seated on the shores of Lake Victoria around the Entebbe area offering you the best opportunity of finding a shoebill easily using a canoe boat. Mabamba Swamp is less explored by bird watchers but is one of the favorable birds watching destinations. There are fewer human activities in this area like fishing activities hence providing more food for the Shoebill stork and for the other birds.
Murchison Falls National Park around Lake Albert delta
Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda is one the best places to see shoebill stork in Africa along the River Nile and Lake Albert. The Lake Albert delta is preferred by bird watchers as offering perhaps the best opportunity to see them anywhere in Africa.
One can choose to take the boat trip one way to track them, and later link up with a guide on a game drive through the savannah plains of the immense Murchison Falls National Park.
Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park
Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of the parks in Uganda where one can have a chance of seeing shoebill stork in the Ishasha sector around Lake Edward Flats at the shores of Lake Edward on the south end Ishasha sector of Queen Elisabeth National Park in the swamps around. Though popular for the tree-climbing lions, the Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park has more to offer. Travelers can pander in Shoebill tracking along the Marsh-filled Lake Edward shores. Besides tracking down the vague shoebill stork, one can enjoy “isolated” game viewing experiences as this part Of the park is frequently skipped by many tour guides.
Semliki Toro Wildlife Reserve
Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve is Uganda’s bird sanctuary on the shores of Lake Albert with well over 400 bird species including the shoebill stork. The park is situated in Southwestern Uganda and can be accessed from Fort portal town where you will get a chance to come across other different bird species that feed around the shore of the Lake i.e including African Pygmy Goose and Blue-breasted, Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters and Blue-headed Coucal.
The Best time to visit the Toro-Semuliki reserve for birding is March, just after the dry season of December to February. Without forgetting that it is also the breeding time for most bird species.
Shoebill in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Ziwa rhino sanctuary is located in Nakasongola district, on the way to Murchison Falls National Park along Gulu Highway from Kampala, shoebill stork in Ziwa can be easily sought along the Lugogo Swamp but you have to use canoeing to get there.
The Lugogo swamp is among the top 9 places to pander in Shoebill tracking In Uganda. A visit to Lugogo Swamp for shoebill tracking can easily be shared with Rhino Tracking at Zziwa, Chimpanzee tracking in Budongo Forest, in Murchison Falls, a boat safari to the falls, and a game viewing safari in Murchison Falls National Park.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre
The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre previously known as Entebbe Zoo is a recuperation center for rescued animals recovered from poachers and traffickers. Among these living onsite is the rare shoebill.
The shoebill at UWEC is equally domesticated and is very hospitable to its visitors – the children love to visit the shoebill exhibition while adults’ visit to the UWEC (zoo) will give you an appropriate awareness of what Uganda has to offer in regards to wildlife.
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