Sites - Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)
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34o 10.00' East 1o 40.00' North
A1, A2, A3
Year of IBA assessment
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.
Key Biodiversity See Box and Tables 2 and 3 for key species. The wetland of Lake Opeta has been considered to be of great importance for the conservation of birds, and there have been calls at the international level to afford this area a higher level of protection. It is the only permanent wetland in the Karamoja area. No detailed inventories have been conducted in this swamp, but from visits by NatureUganda staff it has been identified as important for the conservation of birds. Ploceus spekeoides has been recorded as breeding, but its overall status and distribution in Uganda remain poorly known. Species of the Lake Victoria Basin biome that are expected, but have not been recorded yet, include Bradypterus carpalis, Chloropeta gracilirostris, Cisticola carruthersi and Serinus koliensis.
Non-bird 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.