Cultural Encounter in Semuliki National Park
Semuliki National park is the only tact of true lowland tropical forest in East Africa hosting 441 recorded bird species and over 53 mammals. The park is dominated by the Eastern extension of the great Ituri forest of the Congo basin, this is one of the most ancient and bio-diverse forests. The biologically diverse region provides shelter to over 120 mammals including primates like baboons and chimpanzees as well as elephants and Antelopes. There are around 350 species of birds hosted in this forest including 23 Albertine Rift endemics. Hippos are common along the Semuliki river as well as crocodiles, more than 300 species of butterflies have been identified, 46 species of forest swallowtail, 235 moth species, 441 bird species, 35 Guinea–Congo forest biome bird species, spot-breasted ibis, Haartlaubs duck. Congo sepent eagle, chestnut planed goshawk, red thighed sparrow hawk, it also has 12 species with extremely little distribution are spotted like the western bronze-napped pigeon, yellow-throated cukoo. Four district ethnic groups live near the park. Bwamba farmers live long the base of the Rwenzori while the Bakonzo cultivate the mountain slopes, Batukus cattle keepers inhabit the open plains, and Batwa, Pygmies are traditional hunters who gather on the edge of the forest.
There are different Cultural Community Encounters in Semuliki National Park including,
Batwa community is one of the communities that you can meet on the cultural encounter in Semuliki National park and see their lifestyle. The indigenous Batwa were evicted from the Semuliki forest which used to be their home because of the conservational motives of UWA, they originated from the Ituri Congo forest in the Congo basins. They are short in height and do speak click language, they are social people who have a political leadership style of kingship. Batwa people currently stay in Boma cultural village in Nabisoli at Ntandi near Semuliki National Park headquarters and this is where they were given a residence by UWA with the motive of improving their standards of living. They are allowed to access the park for their cultural ceremonies, and collection of resources such as firewood, waterbodies, herds, and food materials that would be got from the forest. the Batwa have some challenges because of intermarriages since they have changed greatly their way of living. For instance, some have started going to school however, they still know how to interact with visitors through music, dance, and drama. They practice handcraft for sale, they practice dance and music at Nandi, and in all these practices visitors can engage in them.
Karugutu- Kyabandara Community
Karugutu- Kyabandara community is found in the South of Semuliki National Park which is roughly 20km from Fort Portal. The area is habituated by the Bakonzo people who are cultivators. They cultivate the mountain ranges of Rwenzori with crops like soya beans, rice, cassava, and maize. They have planted some trees on the mountain slopes using terracing methods to avoid soil from eroding their crops. Ntoroko market is the major market where they supply their harvest while other products can be sent as far as Fort Portal and Bundibugyo. The Karugutu- Kyabandara community is full of hospitable people and they will make you enjoy being around them when you visit.
Kasesenge- Kyakabaseke Community
Kasesenge- Kyakabaseke Community is located on the Eastern escarpments of the Rift valley of the park, the park valley is occupied by the Bakiga people who migrated to this area back in the 1960s so as to provide labor to the existing tea estates, as a way to earn a living. The Bakiga are known as prone farmers and a hardworking tribe and their way of living will be exciting for your to watch and involve in when you visit the Kasesenge- Kyakabaseke Community.
The Rwebisengo community is situated on the North Western edge of the reserve in the Semuliki flats. The community inhabiting this valley area of Toro, The people of this community are cattle keepers who rear the long-horned Ankole cattle and the cattle supply them with milk which they supply to the areas like Karugutu and Bundibugyo district. They don’t own permanent homes since the area is a valley that keeps on flooding, their grazing land which used to be communal is currently being demarcated because the pressure for demand land has increased. The pastoralists are the Batukus who are believed to have the royal army of Kabalega of the great Bunyoro- Kitara kingdom. You can enjoy being with them as they can show you how to milk cows among other practices.
Ntoroko Fishing Community
Ntoroko Fishing Community is based in the South Eastern end of Semuliki valley near Semuliki river and Lake Albert. This is between the estuaries of the Wasa and Mazizi rivers. The Ntoroko community is mainly known for fishing as majorly dueling around the fishing waters known for fishing as their major economic activity. A visit to this area will expose you to local fishing gear used by the local community to catch fish like mad fish, catfish, tilapia fish are the most common fish caught in this area. All these practices can be enjoyed and experienced by you if you contact Jewel Safaris to add a cultural community tour to the itinerary just the way you want it.