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Location Uganda, Gulu,Masindi
Central coordinates 31o 47.64' East  2o 15.06' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 390,000 ha
Altitude 650 - 1,290m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

NatureUganda



Site description Much of Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) is relatively flat, although it spans an altitudinal range of more than 600 m. The Park has well-defined boundaries with Bugungu and Karuma Wildlife Reserves, which form buffer zones in the south-west and east of the park respectively, and Kyabatwa Forest Reserve to the south. To the south of Bugungu Wildlife Reserve is a large, medium-altitude semi-deciduous forest, the Budongo Forest Reserve (IBA UG019). The Victoria Nile bisects the park from Karuma Falls to the delta at its confluence with Lake Albert, with over 50 distributaries which flow through thick papyrus (Cyperus papyrus) swamp. The Park contains the famous Murchison Falls where the Nile, or a large part of it, flows through a rock cleft some 6 m wide—one of the main tourist attractions. The rest of the park is dominated by rolling savanna and tall grass with increasingly thick bush, woodland and forest patches in the higher and wetter areas to the south and east.The conservation of the park has been based on those animals that have most relevance to its management. These are the large mammals, which have greatest impact on both the ecosystem and the majority of people around the park as well as visitors. MFNP has a variety of tourist facilities, and is becoming well-known internationally as one of the best sites in Africa for seeing Balaeniceps rex.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Ring-necked Francolin Scleroptila streptophora resident  1998  present  A3  Near Threatened 
Heuglin's Francolin Pternistis icterorhynchus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Shoebill Balaeniceps rex resident  1998  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni passage  1998  present  A1  Least Concern 
Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus passage  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  present  A1  Near Threatened 
Rock Pratincole Glareola nuchalis non-breeding  1999  500-1,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Skimmer Rynchops flavirostris non-breeding  1999  1,400 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
White-crested Turaco Tauraco leucolophus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-throated Bee-eater Merops bulocki resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Papyrus Gonolek Laniarius mufumbiri resident  1998  present  A1, A3  Near Threatened 
Yellow-billed Shrike Corvinella corvina resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Emin's Shrike Lanius gubernator resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Piapiac Ptilostomus afer resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-pate Cisticola Cisticola ruficeps 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 
Purple Glossy-starling Lamprotornis purpureus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bronze-tailed Glossy-starling Lamprotornis chalcurus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Red-chested Sunbird Nectarinia erythrocerca resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chestnut-crowned Sparrow-weaver Plocepasser superciliosus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Northern Brown-throated Weaver Ploceus castanops resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-cheeked Oliveback Nesocharis capistrata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-bellied Firefinch Lagonosticta rara resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Black-rumped Waxbill Estrilda troglodytes resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Papyrus Canary Serinus koliensis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown-rumped Bunting Emberiza affinis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Murchison Falls National Park 387,700 protected area contains site 39,000  

Habitats

IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   20%
Unknown   10%
Shrubland   4%
Savanna   16%
Forest   37%
Wetlands (inland) Estuarine waters; Riverine floodplains  10%

Land use

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

Other biodiversity The stretch of river between Murchison Falls and the delta has one of the biggest concentrations of Crocodylus niloticus in the world. Mammals of conservation concern include Loxodonta africana (EN; intensively studied), Giraffa camelopardalis (LR/cd; the largest population in the country) and, formerly, both Diceros bicornis (CR) and Ceratotherium simum (CR). Both are now extinct in Uganda due to poaching, but reintroduction is being considered.

References Aerni (1969), Olivier (1992), Reynolds and Pomeroy (1993), Sempala (2000), UNP (1992), Wilson (1995).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Murchison Falls National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/08/2014

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