Working for birds in Africa

Important Bird Areas in Uganda

Fri, 21/12/2012 - 13:58 -- abc_admin
A. Byaruhanga, K. Pantaleon, and D. Pomeroy, 2001. 166 pp, numerous maps, charts and line drawings. Kampala: Nature Uganda, The East Africa Natural History Society.
p 162

BirdLife International established the Important Bird Area (IBA) programme to 'identify and protect sites critically important for the long-term viability of bird populations (for those species where a site based approach is appropriate)'. Work on the African IBA programme commenced in 1993 and the Uganda IBA directory was utilised in the recent publication of the continental (African) directory. The IBA process is detailed within an introductory section of the book.

Useful general information on Uganda (physiography, population, climate, vegetation, politics and ornithological importance) is provided, and is followed by a section on conservation in the country. Categories of designated 'Wildlife Conservation Areas' are described here, along with details of land-use activities permitted within each. Ugandan government policy is outlined and relevant international protocols are discussed. Global categories and criteria used in IBA identification are fully described. A brief overview of the sites included in the Uganda IBA directory is then presented.

Site accounts for 30 localities are given, sub-divided by region. These range from Queen Elizabeth National Park (c223,000 ha) to the Doho Rice Scheme (3,200 ha). Boxes at the head of each account list the area, location, altitude and status of the site along with the categories under which it qualifies as an IBA. The text is organised under sub-headings. The site description includes physical features and rudimentary details of vegetation zones (where available). Birds are then discussed, with statistics such as the total number of species and number of globally threatened species recorded frequently cited. Rare or unusual species in Uganda (often those restricted to a particular biome) are often included. The text is cross-referenced to charts listing globally threatened species occurring onsite, with comments on their status. Large congregations of birds (another selection criteria) are also listed here with details of maximum numbers. A section on other wildlife is often particularly useful for an overview of the mammals present. A final section outlines conservation issues and often references specific problems for birds (eg the shooting of Shoebill Balaeniceps rex, which being large and docile presents an easy target). These sections make rather depressing reading but do not shrink from dealing with Uganda's political history, and its impact on the nation's wildlife. Further reading is suggested at the end of each site description and full references are presented in a bibliography that follows the accounts.

Appendices list globally threatened species, biome-restricted species and congregations (with site details). A complete Ugandan bird list and a list of Ugandan species appearing on the East African Regional Red List of birds are also presented.

This book provides a wealth of information in a very well-designed and easy-to-use format. While it is principally a tool for decision-makers and conservationists it contains a wealth of information useful to any birder visiting Uganda and I would urge them to support this valuable work by purchasing a copy.

Tim Marlow

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