Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park conveniently situated in the Kigezi Highlands of south-west Uganda, adjacent to the frontier of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was gazetted as a National Park in 1991 and declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site in 1994. It was created due to its exceptional biodiversity, with more than 163 species of trees and over 100 species of ferns. Various bird species and butterflies, as well as many endangered species, including the mountain gorilla.
Covering an estimated area land of 331 square kilometers of jungle forests, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park got its name from a local kikyiga word “Omubwindi literally meaning Impassable. As the name suggests, the forest is almost impassable and the oldest, un spoilt tropical forest dating back 25,000 years ago. The Impenetrable Forest, as it’s called, is one of Africa’s most ancient habitats, since it thrived right through the last Ice Age (12,000 to 18,000 years ago) when most of Africa’s other forests disappeared. In conjunction with the altitude span (1160m to 2607m) this antiquity has produced in an incredible diversity of flora and fauna, even by normal rainforest standards. And we do mean rainforest; up to 2.5m of rain falls here annually.
Historically, in 1932, the current southern and northern parts of Bwindi forest were first gazzatted as Kayonza Crown &Kasatora Forest Reserves respectively, spanning on a total area of 20,700ha. Later, in 1948, the two reserves were amalgamated and expanded into the Impenetrable Central Crown Forest Reserve covering or comprising of 29,800ha. In 1961, two local forest reserves were then combined into the central and hence increasing or adding on the gazetted area to 32,080ha. In the same year, the entire reserve was gazetted as an animal sanctuary in an effort to grant additional protection for the mountain gorillas. Bwindi was finally upgraded to a national park in 1991, along with the creation/establishment of two other mountain national parks in Uganda: Rwenzori Mountains and Mgahinga Gorilla.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is typified by steep hills and narrow valleys with a general incline from the north and west to the south-western corner. The park forms a significant water catchment area serving/feeding the nearby densely/over populated agricultural land and is one of the few large expanses of forest in East Africa where lowland and montane vegetation converge. The three main tributaries of the lshasha River drain into Lake Edward to the north, and the Ndego, Kanyamwabo and Shongi rivers flow southwards towards Lake Mutanda.
Bwindi is the most diverse forest in East Africa for tree species (more than 163) and ferns (more than 104), as well as other taxa. A further 16 species are only distribution in south-west Uganda, and one species, Lovoa swynnertonii , is globally threatened. The forest gets the name ‘impenetrable’ from the dense cover of herbs, vines and shrubs inhabiting the valley floor.
Bwindi has one of the richest fauna communities in East Africa, including over 214 species of forest bird, 7 species of diurnal primate, 120 species of mammals and 202 species of butterfly. Highly important is the existence of almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Bwindi is also an important locality for the conservation of Afromontane fauna, in particular those endemic to the mountains of the western rift valley. Overall, Bwindi contains nine globally threatened species: mountain gorilla, common chimpanzee, l’Hoest’s monkey Cercopithecus l’hoesti , endangered species of African elephant, African green broadbill, Grauer’s rush warbler, Chaplin’s flycatcher, African giant swallowtail and cream-banded swallowtail. Buffalo were poached to extinction in the late 1960s, as were leopard more recently.
The also lies in one of the country’s most over populated or densely populated rural areas in various locations around the forest. Approximately 10,000 families belonging to the local Bachiga, Bafumbira and Barwanda (all Bantu) peoples cultivate the land which is near the park.
More information about Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park
- Bird Watching in Bwindi
- Cycling/Moutain Biking in Bwindi
- Hiking/Nature Walks In Bwindi
- Mountain Gorilla Trekking Bwindi
Accommodation places in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
How to get to Bwindi.