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Location Uganda, Gulu,Masindi
Central coordinates 31o 47.64' East  2o 15.06' North
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 387,700 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.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 3 for key species. The Park boasts a rich avifauna, with a checklist of more than 460 species, due to its large size and wide range of habitats. It is certain that the list is incomplete and many additions can be expected with more intensive research. The convergence zone between the lake and the delta forms a shallow area that is important for waterbirds, especially Balaeniceps rex. This species is an important tourist attraction of MFNP, the only Park where one is almost certain of seeing the bird. Balaeniceps rex is regularly recorded along the Nile inside the park, especially at the delta and on two islands in the river. The globally near-threatened Phoenicopterus minor and Gallinago media have occasionally been recorded. Torgos tracheliotus occurs. The Park supports 20 species from three non-qualifying biomes: 11 species of the Guinea–Congo Forests, six species of the Afrotropical Highlands and three of the Somali–Masai biome.

Non-bird 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.

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 

IBA Monitoring

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

Energy production and mining oil and gas drilling happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Over-exploitation, persecution and control of species habitat effects - gathering plants happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

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

Rynchops flavirostris African Skimmer 100 135 individuals 100 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)  
Murchison Falls National Park 387,700 is identical to site 387,700  

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 -

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 27/11/2014

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