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Location Uganda, Mbarara
Central coordinates 30o 55.00' East  0o 40.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 37,000 ha
Altitude 1,280 - 1,520m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description This is a relatively new National Park, having been gazetted in 1982. Hilly and upland areas dominate the north-western part and the River Ruizi and an interlinking chain of lakes occupy the southern parts. From west to east these are: Mburo, Kigambira, Mutukula, Kazuma and Bwara. The Park contains a wide variety of habitat-types, which give it a surprisingly high diversity of animals and plants for its size. Acacia trees are widespread in many areas, such as well-drained hillsides and low-lying hilltops—places which were formerly much more open and which provided good grazing for cattle and wildlife. The present extent of the Acacia can probably be attributed to overgrazing and frequent burning.Today, there has been a reduction in the diversity of large mammals, as a result of human activity which, over the years, has included hunting, eradication of tsetse fly Glossina, and habitat destruction through cultivation and settlement. Some large mammals, such as Loxodonta africana and Diceros bicornis, are believed to have existed in the area formerly, but have been extinct for many years. Others, such as Panthera leo and Hippotragus equinus, have disappeared in recent years. Rainfall is fairly low and tends to be erratic and unreliable, causing shortage of pastures and thus affecting the behaviour of wildlife and creating demands on the park by local pastoralists. The Park’s location near the Masaka–Mbarara highway makes it easily accessible from Kampala. There are a number of tourist facilities and an education centre.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The park has a diverse bird fauna, with over 310 species recorded. These include a number that have not been recorded in other parks in Uganda such as Ardeola rufiventris, Tricholaema melanocephala, Eremomela scotops, Euplectes orix and Cisticola fulvicapillus. Lybius rubrifacies, a restricted-range species, is occasionally seen, but is rare, probably reaching its northern limit here, and not known anywhere else in Uganda. The site is important for certain species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome, such as Bradypterus carpalis and Cisticola carruthersi, which are rare in other IBAs. The site has one Afrotropical Highlands biome species, Ploceus baglafecht. There are isolated records of two globally near-threatened species, Phoenicopterus minor and Gallinago media. Torgos tracheliotus occurs.

Non-bird biodiversity: Lake Mburo is the only National Park in Uganda in which the ungulate Aepyceros melampus (LR/cd) is found.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Carruthers's Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Scrub-warbler Bradypterus carpalis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Vulnerable 
Sharpe's Pied-babbler Turdoides sharpei resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-chested Sunbird Nectarinia erythrocerca resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-faced Barbet Lybius rubrifacies resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture livestock farming and ranching (includes forest grazing) - agro-industry grazing, ranching or farmin happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
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
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - named species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Grassland   0 0 good (> 90%) moderate (70-90%) near favourable
Shrubland   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) 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  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  high 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lake Mburo National Park 37,000 is identical to site 37,000  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   14%
Wetlands (inland)   7%
Shrubland   56%
Grassland   5%
Forest   15%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -

References Busulwa (1993), Infield and Namara (2001), Kamugisha and Stahl (1993), Muhweezi (1994), Pomeroy and Kasoma (1993), Reynolds and Pomeroy (1993), UNEP (1988a), Snelson and Wilson (1994).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Lake Mburo National Park. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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