Hidden Gem: See What Scientists Found In Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park

Researchers already knew that Murchison Falls National Park — the largest of Uganda’s 10 national parks — was big. After scientists cataloged hundreds of species from the area in 2014, however, they discovered the park harbors twice as much biodiversity as previously thought. While animals such as crocodiles, lions, giraffes, elephants, and hippopotamuses were already known to ecologists, the variety of smaller species was startling.

Catalog of Species

A team from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) cataloged more than 1,500 plant and animal species, including 755 plants, 144 mammals, 556 birds, 51 amphibians, and 51 reptiles. The survey more than doubled the number of known reptiles that call the 2,000-square-mile park home. Several bird and mammal species found by this survey are listed as endangered or threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Photo Credit: Mark Jordahl via Flickr
Photo Credit: Mark Jordahl via Flickr

Why Now?

The rich supply of natural resources found underneath the national park served as the primary reason for the study. The WCS applauded the Ugandan government for developing a common-sense plan to extract reserves of oil found beneath the park while maintaining the viability of wildlife in the park, though they suggest further research before starting any developments.

The survey also gives the Uganda Conservation Foundation a tool to better fight against poachers. Large animals within the park declined by as much as 80 percent in the 1970s, but strict conservation efforts and anti-poaching initiatives have proved successful, as many species have returned.

Photo Credit: Brian Harries via Flickr
Photo Credit: Brian Harries via Flickr

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Tourism Destination

Murchison Falls National Park touts itself as a tourist destination, offering safaris, excursion trips, and sightseeing tours within its vast territory. On any given day, groups can see lions stalking their prey, hippos in lakes and rivers, or giant giraffes nipping at tree branches.

Then there are the beautiful falls themselves, which see the Nile River plummeting off of a cliff. Have a look at this drone footage, which provides a majestic view from above of the Murchison Falls on a gorgeous summer day.

As a region of bountiful wildlife, Uganda and its conservationists take great pride in preserving the nation’s natural habitats in order to help continue feeding both local tourism and the economy, as well as ensure the protection of its magnificent creatures. Find out how the rest of Africa does its part to conserve the natural wonders of the continent on The Rainforest Site.

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