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Location Uganda, Bundibugyo
Central coordinates 30o 23.04' East  1o 0.54' North
IBA criteria A1
Area 100,000 ha
Altitude 800 - 900m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description This site comprises the Semliki Wildlife Reserve, Semliki Controlled Hunting Area (CHA) and an adjacent area of wetland extending to Lake Albert, whose shores have swamps with Miscanthus and papyrus Cyperus papyrus. It borders the Rift Valley escarpment that rises to 1,500 m on the eastern boundary. The Rwenzori foothills are to the south and the CHA adjoins the Wildlife Reserve in the north-west, along the border with Democratic Republic of Congo. These reserves are generally flat, lying at the bottom of the Rift Valley. Two rivers, Wasa and Mugidi, and their tributaries drain the Wildlife Reserve into Lake Albert and the River Semliki marks the western border of the CHA. The local microclimate (influenced by the surrounding topography) and past human activities within the reserves have created a mosaic of vegetation-types, including lake-shore flats and swamps, grassland, wooded grassland, bush grassland, woodland, swamp and riverine forest.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. The species-richness is relatively high, with a list of 350 species for the Wildlife Reserve. The CHA has not been surveyed, but the mudflats at the shores of Lake Albert are worthy of particular investigation. The birds in the two reserves are mainly savanna-woodland species, with water-associated species along various streams through the reserves as well as at the shores of the lake. The tall vegetation along the marshy shores of the lake is home to Balaeniceps rex and other wetland birds, such as Microparra capensis and Nettapus auritus, whilst the papyrus swamp along the rivers holds Laniarius mufumbiri and perhaps other papyrus specialists.Although this site does not qualify for the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome, it holds six species of this biome, including several that are at the extreme south of their range (but which are common in the Wildlife Reserve), such as Ptilostomus afer, Merops bulocki and Lamprotornis purpureus. Sixteen species of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome also occur in the Wildlife Reserve, as do four species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome. There is a single, unconfirmed report of the globally threatened Falco naumanni.

Non-bird biodiversity: In the 1960s, the reserve was renowned for its high populations of Kobus kob (LR/cd) and Panthera leo (VU), but these were reduced to low levels through poaching during the period 1971–1986, as were Loxodonta africana (EN) and Alcelaphus buselaphus (LR/cd). An unknown number of chimpanzees Pan troglodytes (EN) occur in the reserve along the riverine forests.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  1998  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri resident  1998  present  A1  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

2012 medium near favourable medium
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - nomadic grazing happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use gathering terrestrial plants - unintentional effects (species being assessed is not the target) happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Biological resource use logging & wood harvesting - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Forest   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable
Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable
Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Semliki Controlled Hunting Area 50,400 protected area contained by site 50,400  
Toro-Semuliki or Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve 54,200 protected area contained by site 54,200  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   43%
Wetlands (inland)   6%
Shrubland   4%
Savanna   2%
Grassland   15%
Forest   27%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
other -
Notes: Firewood and water collection.

References Allan et al. (1995), Lamprey and Michelmore (1995), Rossouw and Sacchi (1998), UNEP (1988a), Verner and Jenik (1984).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Semliki reserves. Downloaded from on 23/10/2016

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