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Location Uganda, Katakwi,Kumi
Central coordinates 34o 10.00' East  1o 40.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 56,600 ha
Altitude 1,030 m
Year of IBA assessment 2001


Site description Lake Opeta and its surrounding swamp falls in four Districts; it is the only significant wetland in the Karamoja area, and one of the few remaining intact marshes in Uganda. The IBA covers Lake Opeta itself and the surrounding marsh from Lake Bisina in the west, bordering East Teso Controlled Hunting Area in the north, Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve in the east, and covering the seasonal grassland indicated as Lake Okolitorom on maps. The IBA is predominantly an extensive swamp of Miscanthus to the east and south, merging into dry Hyparrhenia grass savannas. Lake Opeta is a small lake in the middle of the swamp, covered by water-lilies Nymphaea with a thin fringe of papyrus Cyperus papyrus on the eastern side. There is a wooded island in the middle of the swamp called the Tisai, where a few people live. The area is mainly used by the Karamojong and Pokot people for grazing their cattle in the dry season.

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 
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 
Fox's Weaver Ploceus spekeoides resident  1998  present  A1, A2, A3  Near Threatened 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Lake Opeta Wetland System Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 68,912 protected area contains site 56,600  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   55%
Unknown   21%
Wetlands (inland)   1%
Shrubland   1%
Savanna   2%
Forest   16%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -

Other biodiversity The IBA borders Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve, which is important for a number of mammal species of global conservation concern. The area was formerly renowned for its large numbers of large mammals, including Panthera leo (VU). Most of the surviving large mammals are in the south of the reserve, in the buffer zone between two Karamojong tribes, the Pian and the Pokot, along the Greek river which drains into Lake Opeta. The main watering grounds for the animals are the swamps associated with the lake.

References Karamoja Wildlife Management Report November (1996), Karamoja Wildlife Management Report March (1997), Karamoja Wildlife Management Report June (1997), Uganda Wildlife Authority (1997).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Lake Opeta. Downloaded from on 18/09/2014

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