Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National Park (SMP) is situated in the extreme west of Uganda, in Bundibugyo district. It lies along the Uganda/Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border within the western arm of the East African Rift Valley. In the southeast are the Rwenzori Mountains, to the west is the Democratic Republic of Congo and to the north are the Semuliki Flats and Lake Albert further on.
Semuliki Natioanl Park is an eastern extension of the vast Ituri forest in Democratic Republic of Congo. It forms part of the forest continuum resulting out of the climatic upheavals of the Pleistocene and therefore one of the richest areas for both flora and fauna in Africa (especially for birds).
Semuliki National Park (220km2) was gazetted in October 1993. The park occupies a flat with gently undulating landform ranging from 670m to 760m above sea level. Since all streams and rivers from the surrounding areas drain through the park, coupled with the poor drainage and topography, many areas in the park are flooded during the rainy season. The average annul rainfall is 1,250mm with peaks from March to May and September to December. The temperatures vary from 18°C with relatively small daily variations.
Semuliki National Park is the only lowland tropical rain forest in East Africa classified as moist and semi-deciduous. There are 336 tree species recorded of which 24 are restricted to Semuliki National Park, to the eastern part of the range, or are shared with only one or two neighbouring forests; They include Isolana congolana, Nesogordonia kabingaensis and Ejacis guineesis. Some tree species in Semuliki National Park such as Cordia millenii and Lovoa surymertonii are considered to be endangered.
A survey carried out in 1999 by the Forest Department determined that, compared to other forest parks in Uganda, Semuliki is of exceptional diversity for small mammals, birds and butterflies. Fauna recorded include 435 bird species (about 34% of Uganda’s total), some of which cannot be found elsewhere in East Africa, including some of the continent’s most spectacular and sought after birds such as horn bills and lyre tailed honey guide.
There are 63 species of mammals, 9 species of which are diurnal forest primates (e.g. chimpanzees, blue monkey, vervet monkeys and olive baboon), while nocturnal primates include pottos and galagos. The following species of mammals are also found in Semuliki National Park: – Forest buffaloes, blue duiker, beecroft’s flying squirrels, pigmy squirrel, little collared fruit bat, water chevrotain and target rat.
At least 374 species of butterflies and moths have been identified including 46 species of forest swallowtails and charaxes plus at least 81 species of large moth, 12 of which are classified as restricted. The wide range of species is attributed not only to the forest’s location, but also to the varied habitats, forest swamp, grassland, bush land and an extensive system of hot springs, warm swamp and savanna woodland.
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