Bugoma Forest Reserve
Bugoma forest reserve is among the most popular and endangered rainforests in Uganda. Bugoma forest Reserve is a tropical rainforest located in the south-western part of Uganda – Kikuube district, Hoima district in the south, Kyenjojo district in the west, and at the eastern side of Lake Albert, however, Kikuube district covers the greatest parts of the forest. The forest is managed by the National Forestry Authority (NFA), a governmental parastal mandated to manage all Central Forest reserves in Uganda. Bugoma Forest covers an area of about 401 square kilometres (155 square miles/40,100 hectares). It was established into a Forest Reserve in 1932 and it has since been managed by the National Forestry Authority till date. Bugoma Forest is specifically situated on the top of an escarpment, east of Lake Albert on the fringe of the Western Rift Valley which offers breath-taking views of the countryside and other surrounding areas. Bugoma forest landscape is characterized by medium altitude semi-deciduous Forest whereby about half of the forested section of the Forest Reserve is dominated by Iron wood which scientifically is known as Cynometra alexandri and locally is known as the Muhimbi. Bugoma Forest Reserve is drained by four small rivers that include River Bubwa, River Wake, River Sonso and River Waisoke that pour their water into Lake Albert. Bugoma Forest Reserve is a one of the biologically important reserve in the Albertine region of Uganda with a conservation value in terms of specie resources as well as providing functional forest blocks of certain species that require maintenance viable populations
Tourist attractions in Bugoma Forest Reserve
Wildlife; Bugoma Forest Reserve has always been a real biodiversity hotspot that is worth exploring by tourists going on Uganda safaris tours. The forest hosts an astonishing diversity of flora and fauna species. This Reserve is a central Conservation Forest which is in the twelfth top places of importance out of the 65 forests studied for biodiversity. It is also amazingly the seventeenth among forests with exceptional species. Bugoma forest has over 34 species of mammals and about nine mammal species are listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List that live within the Bugoma Forest include Buffaloes, Bush Elephants, Uganda Kobs, Golden Cats and Side-stripped Jackals among others.
Primates; Bugoma forest reserve is estimated to host about 600 chimpanzees within the forest and other large groups of primates such as the Black and white Colobus monkeys, the Grey cheeked mangabeys, the Vervet monkeys, the Blue monkeys, the Red tailed monkeys just to mention a few.
Reptiles: Bugoma forest reserve is also a home to about nine reptile species of reptiles. So tourists interested in the study of different wild reptile species in Uganda, Bugoma forest would be the best recommendation. There are also over 257 tree and shrub species including 7 Albertine rift endemic species, more than 12 species are threatened globally and 14 tree species are listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) Red List. Bugoma Forest is also a home to 20 species of Amphibians including one species that is endemic to the Albertine Rift, about 118 species of moths, about 292 species of butterflies that include 4 species endemic to the Albertine Rift Mountains.
Birding; Bugoma forest has recorded 225 different bird species that have been recorded in the forest including the Guinea-Congo Biome bird species. Two of the noteworthy globally threatened bird species within the Forest Reserve include the Black-eared ground thrush (also known as Zoothera camaronensis) and Nahan’s francolin (Francolinus nahani). Several other tropical birds can be spotted in Bugoma forest given his altitude.
Common tourist activities in Bugoma forest reserve
Bugoma forest has several tourist activities for tourists who wish to spend their time in the reserve while on a Uganda Safari such as bird watching, forest walks and primates walks that are refreshing. Even with some animals found in the reserve, Wildlife viewing is not done however during nature walks and primates walk, there are great chances of meeting the endangered mammals and forest animals. Lake Albert and River Nkusi are also on the list of the attractions of the forest reserve.
Save Bugoma forest reserve from deforestation
Despite the interesting things in Bugoma forest, the forest reserve has become one of the threatened resources in Uganda by human encroachment, poaching/hunting, political interference-from greedy politicians, illegal harvesting of local herbs, logging and timber cutting among others. Even the permanent rivers that sued to flow within the Reserve like River Rwemiseke and River Hohwa are now seasonal due to the high rate of deforestation. Currently, the Forest is supplied by water from streams that drain to the Rivers and later to Lake Albert.
Bugoma forest has already suffered deforestation where about 900 hectares of the forest was destroyed in the name of commercial development and promises of community development which however in a long run, the local people living around the park will be affected hence increased cases of land grabbing from officials and access of water. The discovery of Oil and Gas around Lake Albert has also led to the destruction of the forest reserve. It has also been discovered that a large portion of Bugoma forest is being destroyed for sugarcane growing and this so doing is encroachment and will affect the climatic conditions causing several consequences. The community, the conservationists and the tourism industry is on a campaign to save Bugoma forest from such environmental destruction practices. It is most likely that most of the animals and primates are strongly threatened with eviction. The support for the concerned people is the way to prevent the forest from being removed for commercial purposes, tourists visiting the forest is an added value to the forest.
How to Access Bugoma Forest Reserve
Bugoma forest is found at about 70 kilometers away from Hoima town, and it can be accessed from Kampala city the capital of Uganda by road through under-construction road passing via the Hoima-Fort portal road, then to Kabwoya to reach the Bugoma forest reserve via the Kasindi Forest Station. Bugoma forest reserve can also be connected on safari trips for tourists heading to the northern tourist circuit that is Murchison falls national park and the southern tourist circuit including Queen Elizabeth national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park for visitors who wish to take a combined Uganda Safari tour.