Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only remaining home to the critically endangered Rhinos located in Nakasongola district in Uganda. The sanctuary protects a small population of 22 southern white rhinos commonly known for rhino tracking. It covers a total space of 70square kilometers. Rhinos were translocated to the game reserve beginning 2002, two of them were first received from Kenya and kept at the wildlife education center and more six from Disney animal kingdom and Kenya which lead to birth of young rhinos and a slight increase.
The reserve was as result of extinction of rhinos in Uganda during the 1980’s, initially there were large numbers of rhinos decorated all over conservation areas in northern Uganda, not until tragedy hit them, today they are only at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district, this was due to large political and economic crisis that hit Uganda at the time and the high prices attached to ivory caused massive poaching of the Rhino.
The species was present was present in the country not until the civil wars rebels had the parks as hideouts and not only rhinos were killed, animals too suffered the same threat at times they were hunted for food and ivory was believed to have medicinal healings in Asia that were unproven like healing cancer, hangovers and infertility. In 2005, the sanctuary was established and rhinos relocated by the rhino-fund Uganda in fact it’s the only place where you can track rhinos on foot.
The sanctuary has great measures of protecting the world’s largest mammal, well kept in a 7000 hectare of land from the rest of the district of Nakasongola, electrified in a fence and one of the boundaries is a natural swamp that’s hosts the famous shoe bill and a variety of other bird species visitors to birding safaris can add it up to their safari for the bird caption.
The rhino is a social animal just like the elephants, they are short sighted but with a very high sense of hearing and smell to compensate the hearing. There are five crashes of rhino living in the sanctuary, and when a calf is born, the mother separates from the crash to raise her baby until they are mature enough although they may never get chance to see their dads due to territorial issues, only one male rhino leads a crash.
The sanctuary still faces a big threat that humans might gain repeat to poach the rhinos, and herdsmen that bring the long horned cattle to graze, the threat here is that they might be having diseases that might actually affect the rhinos. In order to solve this, every herdsman must come along with an identification card to be allowed to take cattle to graze in the conserved area.
Besides rhino, the sanctuary is home to over 40 animal species including antelopes, crocodiles, hippos and over 300 birds that include the famous shoe bill, rhino tracking is done on foot for about 2 to 3 hours accompanied by a professional guide you will an opportunity to watch these beautiful creatures graze around their natural habitats as they are free to roam in the sanctuary. Other activities like shoe bill tracking and canoeing, birding walks, nature walks, and night walks can be done here. It is advisable to wear shoes, long pants, and insect repellents for protection.
There are plans by the Uganda Wildlife Authority together with the rhino fund Uganda to relocate the rhino to their original Murchison falls and Ajai when the animals increase in number, one can have chance to see the whole circle of the big five (rhino, elephants, leopard, lions, buffalo) when you have an interconnected itinerary to Murchison Falls National Park in the northern part of Uganda, it is the largest and oldest conservation area in Uganda.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located 176km from Kampala on Gulu high way towards Murchison falls national park, accommodation is available at the Uganda wildlife bandas or the nearby town of Masindi ranging from luxury to midrange.