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Location Uganda, Rakai
Central coordinates 31o 47.00' East  0o 47.00' South
IBA criteria A4i, A4iii
Area 8 ha
Altitude 1,130 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description These three rocky islets are about 3 km offshore in Sango Bay. The largest covers about 5 ha, and the next about 3 ha (these are locally known as Ennene (large) and Entono (small) respectively), whilst the smallest is just a rocky outcrop jutting out of the lake. The two larger ones are sparsely vegetated with shrubs and short, weather-beaten trees, especially of Ficus species. The shoreline has no fringing swamp or sandy beaches. The larger island is used periodically by fishermen catching Nile perch Lates niloticus (Mputa) and Rastrineobola argentea (Mukene). A group of fishermen have settled on the island.

Key Biodiversity See Box for key species. As yet, there is no species list for the islands, whose significance is as a breeding and roosting site. The full importance of the islands, especially for Larus cirrocephalus was not appreciated until recently. There are no other breeding colonies of Egretta garzetta known in Uganda, which makes this an important site. Phalacrocorax carbo breeds on both islands in Ficus trees, and 2,000 non-breeding birds were recorded in February and October 1995. Large numbers of Phalacrocorax africanus also roost on the islands, with an estimate of 3,000–5,000 in July 1997.

Non-bird biodiversity: None known to BirdLife International.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Egretta garzetta breeding  500 breeding pairs  A4i  Not Recognised 
Egretta garzetta winter  20,000 individuals  A4i  Not Recognised 
Long-tailed Cormorant Microcarbo africanus breeding  6,000-7,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus breeding  10,000 breeding pairs  A4i  Least Concern 
Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus winter  100,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
A4iii Species group - waterbirds breeding  50,000-99,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   
A4iii Species group - waterbirds winter  100,000-499,999 individuals  unknown  A4iii   

IBA Monitoring

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

Biological resource use fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Biological resource use hunting & collecting terrestrial animals - intentional use (species being assessed is the target) happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Residential and commercial development housing and urban areas happening now some of area/population (10-49%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Rocky areas   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) favourable

Egretta garzetta 695 183 individuals 27 very unfavourable
Microcarbo africanus Long-tailed Cormorant 5000 8420 individuals 100 favourable
Larus cirrocephalus Grey-headed Gull 100000 89955 individuals 90 near favourable
Species group - waterbirds A4iii 20000 99316 individuals 100 favourable

Whole area of site (>90%) covered by appropriate conservation designation  A management plan exists but it is out of date or not comprehensive  Some limited conservation initiatives are in place  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Musambwa islands Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 8 is identical to site 8  

Local conservation groups The local conservation group below is working to support conservation at this IBA.

Name Year formed
Musambwa Islands Joint Conservation Organisation (MIJCO) 1998


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Rocky areas   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture -
urban/industrial/transport -
other -
Notes: Collection of eggs of gulls Larus cirrocephalus.

References Britton (1980), Brown et al. (1982, 1988), Witte et al. (1992).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Musambwa islands. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife