MORE RHINOS ‘ON THE WAY’ AT ZIWA RHINO SANCTUARY
The distance of just over 100 miles from Uganda’s capital city makes the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary the closest game area to Kampala and an excellent tarmac road, presently being upgraded further, allows easily for a full day outing and the guarantee to see the country’s only rhinos in the wild all in the space of 12 hours.
The sanctuary started out with initially four adult rhinos, two male and two female, imported from Kenya’s Solio Game Reserve, before Disney’s Animal Kingdom donated another breeding pair and flew the two from Florida to Uganda. The six adults, after settling in at their new home, soon started to breed and while there are now 6 adolescent rhinos on the sanctuary, the three adult females are already pregnant again and during the course of this year the overall number of rhinos is likely to rise to 15. The rare animals enjoy 24 / 7 protection from a team of armed and well trained rangers, who are at all times moving with the rhinos to ensure their security.
This rapid rate of reproduction is to the knowledge of this correspondent unprecedented, but nevertheless most welcome, as the objective to raise numbers to a point, where at least some rhinos can be returned to Uganda Wildlife Authority’s parks, like Murchisons and Kidepo, can then be accomplished sooner rather than later.
Entrance to the sanctuary is FREE, making visits affordable even though the tracking of the rhinos, accompanied by rangers and guides, is a chargeable activity. Such tracking is best pre-booked, as visitor numbers to Ziwa have constantly risen over the past years. Ziwa remains the ONLY place in Uganda where rhinos can be seen in the wild, apart from a pair at UWEC, also brought into the country by the Rhino Fund Uganda which manages the sanctuary.
Besides the ‘visits’ to the rhinos, normally moving in small groups across the sprawling 17.000 acre former ranch, has the sanctuary management also introduced nature walks and dedicated guided bird walks, with the rare Shoebill Stork being a key attraction to foreign but also local visitors. Some 250+ species of birds have been recorded at Ziwa over the years, making it a bird watchers paradise. At the sanctuary headquarters in the heart of Ziwa is information available about the work done by the Rhino Fund Uganda as well as are staff and rangers at hand to explain in detail what other game is found, including by the way a number of leopard. For more information on the Rhino Fund’s activities see www.rhinofund.org
Driving around the sanctuary is restricted for visitors to reach the administrative headquarters and the two lodging facilities found here, in other words conventional game drives are not permitted. Accommodation is available through the very upmarket Amuka Safari Lodge www.amukalodgeuganda.com or the Ziwa Rhino Lodge www.ziwarhino.com , where budget accommodation in two guest houses of 3 bedrooms each with a common shared bathroom as well as dorm style accommodation is available, while a camping area is presently being set up to facilitate those travelers preferring to pitch their own tent.
Ziwa Rhino Lodge is located adjoining the sanctuary headquarters, where they also operate the main restaurant, which is open daily for breakfast and lunch and of course for supper when guests are staying overnight.
Most safari itineraries tailored for foreign tourists coming to Uganda and visiting Murchisons Falls National Park, now include stops at the sanctuary, for either tracking only or to stay overnight. However, the expatriates living in Kampala, and of course other parts of Uganda, have really taken to visiting Ziwa in growing numbers, as the experience to approach the rhinos on foot, accompanied of course by armed and well trained rangers, is second to none and only rivaled by gorilla tracking.
Uganda was in 2012 named by Lonely Planet as their most favoured global destination and the National Geographic Society has followed suit for 2013 when listing Uganda as among the top global adventure destinations. Welcome to Uganda, the Pearl of Africa and to the country’s many attractions, of which Ziwa undoubtedly ranks right on top.