Ajai Wildlife Reserve is a small protected area that lies on the western bank of the Albert Nile in Arua district in north western Uganda on an elevation of 658m above sea level, consisting of mainly woodlands, savannah, and swamps characterized by a permanent island surrounded by swamps fed by the river Acha and Ala, these combined together form a great birding spot for bird lovers.
The Ajai is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority, named after an African leader (chief) called Ajai who ensured personally the protection and monitoring of the game reserve in 1930s during the colonial rule. It was home to the critically endangered white rhinos in Uganda that went extinct due to the massive poaching for commercial use by humans. In 1965, it had 60 of 80 Ugandan rhinos. the anti-poaching project was carried out at the reserve from the world wildlife fund but this didn’t stop the poaching.
The game reserve was gazette with a primary key of protecting the Rhinos which didn’t survive the test of time this affected the tourism safaris that were directed to Rhinos, increased human population in this area led to major hunting’s of animals that existed with in the park especially after independence, rhino problems sparked off when they realized the market for ivory which was readily available tagged to a handsome pay and enlightenment from south Sudan, compared to other animals, rhinos are easy to track despite them not being prone to attacks because they don’t look for danger and within a few years, the number of the rhinos had greatly reduced and a call to conserve them worldwide. despite this fact, the reserve remained home to a variety of wild life which include hartebeests, black and white colobus monkeys, baboons, sitatunga, oribi, vervet monkeys and a home to several bird species best suited for birding safaris.
The park covers an area of 148 12 of which was reduced to cater for human settlement in 2002 due to increased people number, poaching still exists although on a small scale and a new arrangement was made between the Uganda wildlife authority and a tour company in managing the area developing the area by setting out tourism facilities, roads accommodation providing security and overall protection.
Uganda Wildlife Authority plans to relocate rhinos to the game reserve however there is a delay in the restore due to unconditional circumstances, top most being the security of the rhinos. Communities believe that ounce the rhino has been restored they will gain their pride over their lands but this doesn’t not guarantee repeat of the old habits that led to the extinction in the past as they even prefer to do farming on the game reserve if the government won’t be able to relocate the Rhino. However, spot hunting alongside other animal species is doing good in the game reserve.
The animals can be seen buy going to a game drive or nature walk in the park, and this can be visited all throughout the year best during the dry seasons of January to February, July to September weather conditions are unpredictable in the Uganda and therefore it may rain any time. Wearing long sleeved light shirts is advisable and trousers for safety measure.
Communities that surround the park have rich cultural values. Norms and customs that one would love to see for example tradition dance Arakakraka, weaving baskets and more crafts, learn about their traditional way of doing things. A visit to Ajai Wildlife Reserve can be combined with the Murchison falls national park the largest conservation area in Uganda located in the northern part of the country more game and the most powerful waterfall in the world.
Ajai can be accessed by road via Kampala Gulu, approximately 8 hours’ drive, chatter flights can be organised in Kampala – Kajansi or Entebbe to the Arua airstrip. Tented facilities are available to stay or accommodation in Gulu or Murchison Falls National Park.