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Katonga Game Reserve that lies on the northern banks of River Katonga is to become the 11th National Park in Uganda, according to officials at Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

The Game Reserve that stretches over 210 square kilometres in Ibanda and Kamwenge districts was gazetted in 1998 but now UWA has started a drive to upgrade it to a national park to boost wildlife and tourism.

UWA’s Veterinary official Dr Patrick Atimnedi says Katonga is an additional tourism package which brings products closer to tourists, especially those from Kibaale National Park and the Rwenzori cluster.

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Dr. Atimnedi has of recent been in the wilderness with other veterinarians, trans-locating zebras, topis and elands to Katonga, and the veterinarian says the antelope family arrival brings to life UWA’s dream of making Katonga an antelope epicentre.

The reserve already has an estimated 2,000 impalas, 1,000 bushbucks, 500 waterbucks and an unspecified number of the less known but globally attractive sitatunga – a local breed of swamp-dwelling antelope.

Katonga is also going to be Uganda’s third national park with zebras, and is expected to attract tourists with tight schedules.

In 2015 five zebras were introduced to the game reserve but UWA says, three of the five zebras walked 153km back to Mburo National Park.

The animals were then loaded onto trucks and driven to their new home. After the translocation of 46 zebras and about 30 topis, UWA took a group of journalists to see how the animals were adopting to their new home.

In a more than Shs5 billion investment plan, UWA intends to promote Katonga as the ‘source of the source of River Nile’, the longest river in the world.

Katonga and Kagera are the main rivers that pour into Lake Victoria, from which the Nile flows all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Katonga, a 220km-long river, is said to originate from Bihanga in Kamwenge district where three rivers – Kitonga, Mpanga and Rushango converge.

From there, Katonga flows in two directions; westwards to pour into Lake George and northwards into Lake Wamala in Mubende, and later into Lake Victoria to connect to River Nile.

“This is a [tourism] product we are seriously looking at because this offers a unique experience. Guests will take a walk along the river to the source of the source of the Nile and in the process view the sitatungas,” Dr. Atimnedi noted.

This is a 35km stretch of River Katonga and it will take a tourist about five days of activity-packed trek.

UWA has already secured the approval of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and is waiting for the proposal to be endorsed by cabinet and later parliament so that Katonga can become a national park.

Other National Parks

UWA’s outgoing Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya, says 95 per cent of Uganda’s tourism resources are nature-based. Tourism contributes 10 per cent of Uganda’s GDP and is the country’s top foreign exchange earner.

Tourists favour Ugandan national parks because they offer a variety of species. While they all have a wide variety of wild animals, each has a special ‘X-factor’.

Murchison Falls National Park (Masindi/Nwoya)

Uganda’s biggest national park is arguably also its best-known, in part because of the magnificent falls that tourists can trek up for a more intimate experience. The Victoria Nile separates the park into the northern and southern banks, and Murchison also has some of the best accommodation facilities.

Lake Mburo National Park (Kiruhura)

This acacia-savannah park is favoured for its extensive wetland, birding, as well as trophy hunting, heavily controlled by UWA.

Queen Elizabeth National Park (Kasese)

With its Ishasha tree-climbing lions, shoebill stork, Kazinga Channel and Mweya peninsula, it is no wonder Queen Elizabeth is a very popular park.

Mgahinga Gorilla National Park (Kisoro)

Semliki National Park (Bundibugyo)

Situated on the floor of the Albertine rift valley, Semliki is famous for birding and primates. It boasts more than 400 bird species and 300 butterfly species and has hot springs.

Mt Rwenzori National Park (Kasese/Kabarole)

This is a mountain park, popular with climbers, and offers a rocky mountain experience, with a snow-capped peak.

Mt Elgon National Park (Mbale)

Where Rwenzori is rocky, climbing the Elgon is a forested affair. The forest changes and fascinates the higher one goes, with unique bamboo and other tree species. The breath-taking caves and waterfalls are

Covering three of the eight Virunga mountain volcanoes, Mgahinga gives both the mountaineering and gorilla tracking experiences.

Kidepo Valley National Park (Karamoja)

Kidepo is a savannah park loved for its pure, totally wild experience. It is also the Ugandan park with ostriches, cheetahs, not to mention the mountain-dwelling Ik community that makes for amazing visits.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park (Kabale)

Where gorilla-tracking in Mgahinga gives the volcanic mountains experience, trekking through mountainous Bwindi’s dense tropical forest in search of the gorillas is a different ball game. The park was declared a UNESCO natural world heritage site in 1994.

Kibaale National Park (Kibaale)

When one thinks of chimpanzee tracking in Uganda, the first park in mind is this forested sanctuary in Tooro Kingdom.


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