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Location Uganda, Mpigi
Central coordinates 32o 20.00' East  0o 5.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A3
Area 16,500 ha
Altitude 1,130 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description Mabamba is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus Cyperus papyrus towards the main body of Lake Victoria. Miscanthus and Cyperus species dominate, but there is a narrow open water channel and a small patch of water-lilies Nymphaea. There are also areas of sedge Cladium, and sometimes drifting papyrus swamp islands. The Bay forms part of Waiya Bay, south-west of Nakiwogo Bay; these are all to the west of Entebbe International Airport. This IBA is one of the best marshy areas along the northern shores of Lake Victoria.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. There has been no detailed inventory of the bay and its associated swamps, but one has now begun. However, a recent study of waterbirds of Lake Victoria revealed the presence of several species of conservation interest. This is the closest place to Kampala where Balaeniceps rex are regularly seen. The surrounding communities have reported breeding, and the young are sometimes collected by local people to be raised and eventually sold. This has not been very successful because of the specialized feeding habits of the birds, and as they grow they become expensive to feed. Balaeniceps rex feeds primarily on lungfish Protopterus aethiopicus, which is also prized by the local community. Balaeniceps rex is regularly recorded in pairs and threes in the marsh at Nakiwogo, c.2 km north-east of Mabamba Bay.Recent visits also confirmed the presence of flocks of other species, especially migrants such as Sterna nilotica, Chlidonias leucopterus and Chlidonias hybridus and residents such as Larus cirrocephalus. Other notable species found in the marsh include good numbers of Ardea goliath, Plectropterus gambensis and Nettapus auritus, and a number of migratory waders. The site may be important for Hirundo atrocaerulea, and there are old records of the globally near-threatened Circus macrourus.

Non-bird biodiversity: Like many papyrus swamps adjacent to Lake Victoria, Mabamba contains the ungulate Tragelaphus spekii (LR/nt) which is commonly hunted by local people. More information on other fauna will become available after detailed studies of the area.

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 
Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Carruthers's Cisticola Cisticola carruthersi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-winged Scrub-warbler Bradypterus carpalis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
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 
Papyrus Canary Serinus koliensis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

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

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) 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
Energy production and mining mining and quarrying happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Human intrusions and disturbance recreational activities happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Wetlands (inland)   0 0 good (> 90%) good (> 90%) 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)  
Mabamba Bay Wetland System Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 2,424 protected area contained by site 2,424  

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

Name Year formed
Mabamba Bird Guides and Conservation Association 1998


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland)   100%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
tourism/recreation -

References Anon. (1950), Arinaitwe (1997), Balirwa (1998), Wanda (1997).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mabamba Bay. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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