It takes about 1 hour to drive mainly on dirt roads from Entebbe to the home of the Shoe bill – Mabamba Swamp, and it’s about 50km (1 ½ hrs) west of Kampala. Mabamba Swamp is an extensive marsh stretching through a long narrow bay, fringed with papyrus towards the western main body of Lake Victoria in Mpigi District. You will then access the swamp in local fishing boat / Canoe with a local guide
Mabamba wetland is a perfect place for one day outing from Entebbe area and places in and around Kampala, or add on to a safari that includes other destinations in Uganda. The best time to visit is late morning hours or even afternoon after lunch. Pack a nice lunch if you are going for the day, some bottled water along a pair of binoculars, hat, sun protection, insect repellant, light rain jacket, a backpack for all your items and long-sleeved shirt and trousers.
Mabamba swamp is a RAMSAR site, and a community project, with local people employed as boatmen and guides. Mabamba Swamp is a large tract of marshlands with various channels through it and it provides the perfect habitat for countless of water -birds away from the Shoebill Stork such as Swamp flycatcher, African purple swamp hen, African water rail, Pallid Harrier, Papyrus Gonolek, White-winged Warbler and the Blue Swallow Common moorhen, lesser jacana, African jacana, African pygym Goose, White-faced whistling duck, Squacco heron, Blue Breasted Bee-eater, Winding cisticola, Goliath Heron and many others.
Mabamba has become one of the strong holds for the migrant Blue Swallow with over 100 individuals recorded every year. Like many papyrus swamps adjacent to Lake Victoria, Mabamba is home to the Sitatunga, a swamp antelope which is commonly hunted by local people. It is also a habitat to rare plant species like Sandboxes species.
Other places to find the Shoebill storks in Uganda include; Nabajuzi Swamp in Masaka, Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park along the Lake Edward Flats, in Murchison Falls Park – down the Nile where it merges with Lake Albert, Lake Mburo National Park, Ziwa Rhino Reserve, Lake Kyoga and Semliki Wildlife Reserve. There are about 1000 shoebill Storks left in Uganda today and their greatest danger is development. Back in the day, the Shoebill Storks were being killed in Uganda by superstitious fisherman who saw their sighting as a bad omen, meaning no success during fishing once found.
Shoebill Stork is a predominantly solitary species, in which adults come together only to breed. The breeding season is ill-defined, but some evidence suggests that it coincides with the onset of the dry season, to prevent flooding of the nests.
A female may lay from one - three eggs and both parents share incubation duties for a month before the young ones hatch. Babies are fed for several months before they can search for food on their own. Eggs measure 80-90 mm x 57-61 mm - The new hatched chicks are able to fly after about 100 days, while it takes three to four years for young to become sexually mature and individuals have been known to live 36 years in captivity.
Shoebill feed on all fish of all kinds as long as it’s of a manageable size as well as Turtles, Water Snakes, Lizards, Frogs, young Crocodiles, young water birds, Snails, Rodents and also muddy waters
They often stand in water, waiting for prey pass. It is almost still for a while, with bill pointed down in water and may sometimes stand on floating vegetation, watching for prey.
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