All about the Cape buffaloes in Uganda

They are one of the deadliest big game animals responsible for several deaths of hunters in Africa consisting of the large savanna buffaloes and the small forest buffaloes but in Murchison Falls National Park, Savanna buffaloes graze in a large herd and are very protective of their calves, males often involve themselves in fights and the losers separate from the herd. Sighting them at the park is easier along the River Nile banks especially during the dry season because they drink a lot of water.

The cape buffalo can grow up to the height of 165cm around the shoulder and can weigh 680kg (1500lbs), making is regarded as one of the enormous “Big Five” animals of Africa although they are herbivores feeding mainly on grass, buffalos are among the deadliest mammal species in Uganda known for killing hunters reason being they are very unpredictable and defensive nature and buffaloes always with excitement trample a lion threatening to attack any of them! But because of their poor ability to regulate body temperature throughout the hot equatorial days, they are commonly found wallowing in mud or water along the river banks.

Uganda has two subspecies of buffaloes in existence and they include the larger savannah buffalo and the smaller forest buffalo grazing and living in two groups, one as family herds having mainly females and calves then the second one being the bachelor herds and they can be found in National parks like Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park among others.

They are among Africa’s wildest ruminants and can survive in all types of grassland habitat in sub-Saharan Africa ranging from dry savanna to swamp and from lowland flood plains to montane rainforests and they are immune to some diseases that attack and kill most domestic cattle in Africa, the diseases include nagana spread by tsetse flies.

When it comes to buffalo breeding, males detect the females are on heat by regularly sniffing their genitals and urine and the females be on heat for three days attracting attention of bulls that court her by laying their chins on her rump. For one to be in control of the females, least eight years of fighting for his way to dominate the mating and the female buffalo remains with the herd after giving birth and the calf suckles for at least 15 months.

Planning to visit Uganda for safari and would love to get a chance of encountering these enormous Buffaloes, you can book a tour to Murchison falls park with Tristar Africa Skimmer Safaris by sending an email to info@tourmurchisonfalls.com or call us now on +256-758540071 to speak with our reservations team.

All about the African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana)

Uganda has two different elephant species which include savannah elephants found in Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park and the other is the  Forest Elephants with  straight tusk, hairier and smaller to easily navigate through the thick forests found in various national parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park particularly in the southern sector, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parkin the southern sector, Kabale Forest National Park, Semliki National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Mount Rwenzori National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park.  And hybrid species of forest Elephants are said to have emerged in Queen Elizabeth Park around the Ishasha section of the park.

They  are ultimately the largest herbivore animals with a flexible trunk used to dig, signal, gather food, spray water and dust, siphon water into the elephant’s mouth – and even as an extra foot!, they are also sociable, affectionate animals with the sense of caressing companions with their trunks, and greeting other family members when they meet. They look out for the weaker ones, adopt orphaned calves and even display grieving behavior over dead friends and family members but surprisingly, elephants only give birth once after every 5 years.

After successfully mating, the males move on to join other herds of elephants, as the female starts a gestation period of 22-months and when the calf is born, his/her aunts, sisters, and cousins all will assist in taking care of the newly born calf so in the process all the elephants of the herd learn very important methods of rearing baby elephants.

Their long husks of ivory and large fan-shaped ears serve many purposes like the large surface area helps radiate excess heat under the unfriendly African sun, they communicate visually with the ears like lapping their ears implies they are either aggressive or joyful and then the ears are used in conjunction with the soles of their feet and their trunk to help in hearing sound from distant places. An elephant under favorable living conditions have the ability to hear up to 10 km (6.2 mi.) range. Both male and female elephants have tusks used for digging, foraging, and fighting. At times, they are a resting place for the elephant’s very heavy trunk. The tusks are present at birth but then they; “baby tusks” fall off after a year, and permanent ones grow to replace them.

African elephants demonstrate compassion by caring for the wounded and grieve the deceased, they have a developed sense of memory which makes them remember lost loved ones, hold grudges, and recognize long-lost friends giving them a joyous greeting ceremony where they spin in circles, flap their ears, and trumpet. Elephants are considered to be peaceful if not provoked or cornered by any intruder and considering the fact that they are very large, their ability to hide in tall grasses and bushy shrubs is a gift and are herbivorous in nature feeding on grass, fruits, leaves, twigs, and bark of trees and seed pods, and they graze in large groups of 100s caring for each other with immense sense of humor making it one Uganda’s sprawling savannah dwellers in the big 5 family. Their massive black forms can be seen from far away marching across the grasslands as they search for huge amounts of vegetation to feed on daily, along with an estimated 30-50 gallons of water from lakes and river.

If you plan on visiting Murchison falls park for a safari , expect to encounter huge herds of African elephants during a game drive or boat cruise . You can book a tour to Murchison falls park today by sending an email to info@tourmurchisonfalls.com or just call us on +256-758540071 to speak with the reservations team.

All about Rhinos in Uganda


In Uganda, both the Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and the Northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni) can be found in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary established in 2005 on a 7,000 hectare piece of land in the Kafu River Basin but for more than a decade ago, Uganda had only 6 Rhinos of which 4 were imported from Solio Ranch in Kenya and 2 from Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida in the United States and they bred thus multiplying in number with the latest birth of a male calf by 18 year old Nandi (mother) and 17 year old Moja (father) adding them up to 20 and another birth expected soon at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in a nearby Nakitoma Village in Nakasongola district north of Kampala along the Kampala-Gulu Highway. The recent birth by Nandi totals her calves to 15. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place to find rhinos in Uganda since they were wiped out by the poachers

Reproduction is a very long and slow process for rhinos because the mother carries only one calf at a time and the gestation period alone is long taking about 14-18 months. Strangely, new findings indicate that rhinos in captivity are most likely not to reproduce often compared to when they live freely but as soon as the calf is born, it will be nursed on the milk that the mother produces for about a week, after that it will be introduced to soft grasses and foliage which it feeds on for 12 to 18 months, after which it is fully grown hence the mother gives the calf the undivided attention and love.

When born, the baby bears dense hair on its body helping in keeping it warm and free from the sunburn but between 2-4 years of age, the calf will start to detach itself away from the mother if it is male but females have a tendency to stick with their mothers for longer compared to the male calves. After getting independent, they have to establish their own territories where they take charge and control their daily lives.

For the time the mother and calf are living together, she will not give birth to another baby meaning there is an age difference of three to five years between rhino babies making it difficult to boost their numbers compared to the other big 5 animals that include the lions, buffaloes, leopards and elephants.

Planning to visit Uganda for safari and would love to see the rhinos in person at the Zziwa rhino sanctuary, you can get in touch with through info@tourmurchisonfalls.com or call us now on +256-758540071 to speak with reservations team.

Top Game Tracks in Murchison Falls National Park

Murchison Falls National Park stands as one of Uganda’s most beautiful parks and the largest since its establishment in 1952 covering 3,893 per square kilometers (1,503 sq mi) on the shores of Lake Albert stretching inland Northwest of Uganda creating Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA) with the 748 square kilometers (289 sq mi) Bugungu Wildlife Reserve and 720 square kilometers (280 sq mi) Karuma Wildlife Reserve near it.

The British explorers John Speke and James Grant were the first Europeans to visit the present day Murchison Falls Conservation Area in 1862 then its exploration was completed by Samuel and Florence Baker in 1863-1864 as Baker later named the falls Murchison Falls after the geologist Roderick Murchison, the then president of the Royal Geographical Society. Murchison Falls National Park has three of its game tracks (Buligi, Albert and Victoria) in the Northern sector and one (Honeymoon track) which was re-opened in 2015 in the Southern sector and in between the two sectors gently flows the famous River Nile.

Buligi tracks in the northern sector of the Murchison Falls National Park is one of  the best tracks in the park with several of the park’s game in a savanna grassland that still has the real appearance of Africa decades ago. Its wilderness consists of antelopes, elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards, hyenas and several primates which make the game drive a convenient and resourceful one with a professionally trained game ranger having the best places to find the game animals. Early morning risers stand a chance of spotting the nocturnal animals like the lions, leopards and the hyenas return to their dens from a night hunt and evening game drives make you feel the reality and existence of beautifully attractive game along the tracks.

Albert tracks. Most of the park’s visitors cross to the Northern sector of the park for game drives although Buligi track is more famous, the Albert tract also hosts several of the park’s game like the buffaloes, crocodiles, hippos, antelopes and elephants among others. Its location within the Lake Albert delta and Victoria Nile makes it a great spot for sport fishing though a few tourists take part in this beautiful activity.

Victoria tracks also located north of River Nile and Lake Albert Delta offering the visitors a refreshing look of the park and its Aquatic birds and animals plus Nile perch and Tiger fish catching in the Victoria Nile. Watching birds like Goliath heron, Great Egrets, and African fish eagles and most looked out for rare shoebill, photography and filming are some of the other activities visitors can engage themselves in while in the Northern sector.

Honeymoon tracks derived from a couple who spent their night together here in 1950s on top of the falls in the southern sector. Uganda kob, Jackson’s Hartebeest, Cape buffalo, waterbucks, oribi, warthogs, elephant, and even sightings of lions were highly reported in the Honeymoon track but these wild animals were said to be shy by 2015 because of the isolation they experienced.

It should be noted that the honeymoon tracks were neglected for about 20 years which made 80% of the tourism activities take place in the Northern sector until 2015 when it was re-opened and it was presided over by the then Executive Director of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Dr. Andrew Seguya, accompanied by Murchison Falls Conservation Area Warden for Tourism, Agnes Nakidde, and several concessionaires located within this sector including Sambiya, Murchison River Lodge, Nile Safari Camp, Bakers Lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Camp, Red Chili Camp, and Budongo Eco-Lodge.

Accommodation wise, the park has sleeping facilities ranging from luxury to budget therefore catering for all the visitors who spend their nights in the park. If you are interested in visiting this famous park, the northern sector hosts most of the park’s activities but still the southern sector will greatly inspire you and upgrade your experience in the wilderness. Call us today on +256-758540071 or send us an email to booking@tristarafricaskimmersafaris.com.

All About The African Lion (Panthera leo)

In Uganda, Lions are mainly found in the three largest savannah parks like Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) lying Northwest of Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park (KVNP) lying in the Northeastern part of Uganda and Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in the Western region of Uganda. Well, Queen Elizabeth National Park has these rare species of tree climbing lions found within the Ishasha sector in the southern part making them one of the two populations in whole world with such a day to day unique behavior, the other population is found in Lake Manyara National Park in the Southern part of Tanzania and they make up the big 5 family which include others like the elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffaloes.

Considered to be the kings of beasts and the savanna jungle, lions are nocturnal in nature and are very difficult to hunt down and sighting them during a game drive in the park is the hardest but with nocturnal game drives, spotting them is possible as they hunt for their prey. Looking closely at the food chain, lions are listed up and are experts in hunting for their prey and in most cases they face intruders head on if attacked, but again if they are properly angered, the lions will always confront you.

Shockingly, the population of lions has greatly decreased by 60% in Uganda’s oldest and largest Murchison Falls National Park according to the research by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researchers and the entire Africa suffers the same fate due to the increase in lion poisoning by local ranchers but to local neighbors of the park, the decrease in lion numbers is a good thing since their livestock will be safe hence turning out to be a challenge to the conservationists. On the contrary, Kidepo Valley National Park experiences an increase of lion population from 58 to 132 as per 2013.

The lion is one of the most sought-after safari species in the world, surviving in deadly prides of up to 15 lions and the groups consist of related females and their cubs, born around the same time and raised within their territory of birth. New mothers will live in dens with their cubs for the first few weeks and  starts transferring them one by one to a new den after every few days to prevent piling a scent which will definitely attract other predators like the leopards and hyenas. Unfortunately, it is a gain natural for a new male taking over a pride to kill all cubs in most cases, and mate with each of the females during the mating season.

The males have manes which play a great a role in making them appear much more larger thus intimidating other lions and spotted hyenas which are the lion’s main rivals when it comes to their prey, themselves and cubs. But the lionesses are responsible for at least 90% of the hunting prey in very tactical and coordinated groups making them able to even pursue larger species like buffaloes and giraffes and the kill is never shared equally.

Planning to visit Uganda for a wildlife safari and would love to encounter the African Lion, you can book a tour to Murchison Falls park today with Tristar Africa Skimmer Safaris, we will get you a comfortable 4×4 safari car along with a guide or you can as well just rent the car for self drive and go explore on your own. Contact us now by sending an email to info@tourmurchisonfalls.com or call us on +256-758540071 to speak with our reservations team.

The Big Five in Murchison Falls National Park

Uganda being the Pearl of Africa stands among the few African countries with all the Big Five game animals that include the lions, elephants, rhinoceros (Black and White), Cape buffaloes and leopards popularized by the Big Game hunters because they are difficult to hunt on foot. The Big Five family was selected for their fierceness and hardships encountered in hunting them, rather than their sizes then tour operators globally picked up the term “Big Five” for marketing purposes in the tourism industry.

Other African countries with the big 5 include; Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa while in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, four of the Big Five are found and the visitors can visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to observe the Rhinoceros on their way to or from Murchison Falls National Park depending on the itinerary. Rhinoceros have a special sanctuary at Ziwa because they are the most endangered animal species among the big five family wiped out in 1970s due to the political wars in Uganda, poaching and government’s negligence on natural habitat. They are under the protection of game rangers and guards with the aim of breeding and releasing them into the national parks again in a nearby future.

Note that Murchison Falls National Park considerably is the oldest and the largest park in Uganda established in 1952 on a 3,893 per square kilometers (1,503 sq mi) land on the shores of Lake Albert stretching inland Northwest of Uganda creating Murchison Falls Conservation Area (MFCA), bisected by the famous River Nile into two banks (Northern and Southern banks).

The other four of the Big Five game animals roam and feed freely in the park under the watchful eyes of the game rangers as they multiply day and night. These fierce species of the Big Five found in Murchison Falls National Park include;

African Elephants (Loxodonta Africana)

These are the largest herbivore animals with a flexible trunk, long husks of ivory and large fan-shaped ears  and are considered to be peaceful if not provoked or cornered by any intruder. Although they are very large, their ability to hide in tall grasses and bushy shrubs is extremely incredible and those of you who think you are vegetarians, you just lied to yourselves because the elephants hold that title feeding on grass, fruits, leaves, twigs, and bark of trees and seed pods, and socially, they graze in large groups of 100s caring for each other with great sense of humor.

 Buffaloes

They are one of the deadliest big game animals responsible for several deaths of hunters in Africa consisting of the large savanna buffaloes and the small forest buffaloes but in Murchison Falls National Park, Savanna buffaloes graze in a large herd and are very protective of their calves, males often involve themselves in fights and the losers separate from the herd. Sighting them at the park is easier along the River Nile banks especially during the dry season because they drink a lot of water.

 African Lions (Panthera leo)

Regarded as the kings of beasts and the savanna jungle, lions are nocturnal in nature and very difficult to hunt and spot during a game drive in the park unless a nocturnal game drive is organized for you. When you look at the food chain, lions are listed up and are experts in hunting for their prey and they usually face intruders head on in most cases, if properly angered, the lions will always confront you. Shockingly, the population of lions has greatly decreased by 60% in Murchison Falls National Park according to the research by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) researchers and the entire Africa suffers the same fate due to the increase in lion poisoning by local ranchers but to local neighbors of the park, the decrease in lion numbers is a good thing since their livestock will be safe hence turning out to be a challenge to the conservationists. On the contrary, Kidepo Valley National Park experiences an increase of lion population from 58 to 132 as per 2013.

African Leopards (Panthera pardus)

Chiefly famous for their stealth character and best known for their ability to carry their kill up the tree to keep it safe from the lions and hyenas, leopards are many in existence but spotting one is very difficult because they are solitary and nocturnal in nature. They are fond of being alone unless it is their mating period and are great swimmers compared to lions and are able to jump up to 10 feet up. Leopards mate any time of the year and give birth to up to four cubs within 90-100 days then the cubs are moved to the cave for safety reasons and from 1- 2 years of training and growth, the surviving cubs are kicked out to start their own lives in the jungle.

A visit to Murchison Falls National Park will definitely give you an absolute chance to spot all the big five with a stopover at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary before or after visiting the park for other four of the big five. For your memorable Safari to Murchison Falls National Park call us on +256-758540071 or send us an email to booking@tristarafricaskimmersafaris.com.

 By Justin Ekaru