Katonga Wildlife Reserve is one of the must-visit destinations within Uganda and presently managed the Uganda Wildlife Authority under the Kibale Conservation Area Administration with the warden in-charge being at the Reserve Head office at Kikorogoto.
It was established in 1964 as a Game Reserve to act as a corridor for migrating animals from western Uganda to Sudan and Tanzania but later became a Wildlife Reserve in 1996 when the former Game Department and Uganda National Parks merged to make the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and currently stretches for approximately 207 square kilometers. This Savannah grassland ecosystem is found within western Uganda in Kamwenge and Kyenjojo Districts, and is managed by UWA which also maintains a Camping site with several guides and restaurant within the Reserve.
Vegetation of Katonga Wildlife Reserve
Its landscape is generally undulating in nature with varying vegetation types such as papyrus, woodlands, grasslands, wooded grasslands, swamps, riverine woodlands and riverine grasslands. The largest part of the Reserve is mixed savannah with woodland and acacia with both seasonal and permanent wetlands but it also comprises of pockets of tropical and riverine forests.
Its exceptional geographical location-between savannah, forests and swamp vegetation that offers the Reserve a diverse ecosystem that offers habitat to a variety of wildlife and animals species. However, the most dominant flora species within the Wildlife Reserve is Chloris gayana and Sporobolus festivus and these exist with other species such as Setaria, sometimes the Panicum maximum and Hyparrhenis species.
The wetland system of Katonga River is connected with the Nile system hence forming a significant and lush wetland system for human survival and the different wetland types especially wetlands offer a number of habitats that allow the survival of faunal diversity of the Wildlife Reserve.
Wildlife and Bird Species within the Wildlife Reserve
Sitatunga antelopes are the commonest animals occupying the Katonga Wildlife Reserve but other animals you will encounter include Hippos, warthogs, bushbucks, elephants, buffaloes, Reedbucks and waterbucks in addition to diversity of bird species. This site used to be a great spot for wide range of animals such as Zebras, elands and Topis in the 1960s but became extinct in the Park. Nonetheless, several Zebras, Impalas and Topis were successfully translocated by a team from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to Katonga Wildlife Reserve in 2018 so as to restock and boost animal populations in the site. Other fascinating mammal species include duikers, leopards, River Otters, water chevrotain, Olive baboons, Uganda Kobs and Black and white colobus monkeys.
In addition to the wildlife species, the Katonga Wildlife Reserve offers shelter to more than 150 species of birds especially the forest, wetland and savannah bird species in addition to various Amphibians, reptiles and butterflies that will make your safari complete and memorable.
How to Access Katonga Wildlife Reserve
A trip into Katonga Wildlife Reserve is only a three hour drive from Kampala City (Uganda’s Capital) to Kyegegwa Town Council and while here, turn southwards for about 42 kilometers following well visible signposts. This Reserve is best explored by River canoes or even on foot and the latter offers an up-close encounter with nature.