Mabira Forest Reserve Safari Guide
This Jewel safaris article will give you an insight of what Mabira forest reserve is known for and what it has for a traveller who is fun oriented, a researcher or botanist.
Mabira Forest is a dense rain-forest located in Buikwe district along the Kampala– Jinja highway. It covers an area of about 120 square miles and is home to about 311 tree species with the forest centre containing many ancient trees species, many of which are over 70 years old. Mabira Forest is a gem of wildlife; biologically, Mabira forest is home to diverse species of plants, butterflies, animals and birds of which some can only be found here.
Mabira is home to 219 butterfly species, 316 bird species and 97 of moths. Among the bird species are the Nahan’s francolin and Papyrus Gonolek among others. 79 species of the birds in Mabira can only be found in Central Africa. The forest also has blue duikers, fruit bats, baboons, bush pigs, tree hyrax, Red-tailed monkeys, Squirrels, Bushbuck, Grey-cheeked mangabey, Bush babies, and various species of snakes.
As a rain-forest, Mabira forest is an important water catchment area, serving many streams and other water bodies like River Nile, River Sezibwa, Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga.
History of the Mabira Forest Reserve
The Baganda consider the forest of great cultural and historical significance. They believe that their god of food and rain lives in the forest.
The forest has always provided medicine/herbs that are used to treat all kinds of ailment among the people living in the area and beyond.
Mabira became protected in 1932. Before its protection, the forest was used to extract rubber while some parts were cleared to set up coffee plantations.
As time went on and especially between 1971 and 1979, the forest resources were continually depleted due to poaching, logging and encroachment by neighbouring communities.
Deforestation, encroachment and the setting up of sugar and tea plantations led to the loss of over 50 percent of the forest cover. With the return to peace in 1985, farmers illegally occupying the forest were expelled and reforestation programs aggressively implemented by the government.
Apart from the Uganda Government, Inter-Governmental Organizations and other agencies did everything possible to restore the forest and develop Eco-tourism to benefit the communities living in the outskirts of the forest.
Mabira forest is truly loved by the local citizens to the extent that when the government tempted to give it away to the sugarcane company that has plantations around it, everyone went out on a peaceful demonstration agitating for this forest not to be touched. The government had to leave the forest untouched. That is the reason as to why it is there till today otherwise it would have been cleared for sugarcane growing.
The main rationale for protesting was that the locals foresaw the climatic change because apparently Mabira forest plays a very vibrant role in influencing the climatic conditions of the surrounding areas.
What to do in Mabira Forest Reserve.
Are you an Eco Tourist or nature lover!!Then this could be your next destination to visit. Mabira forest reserve is visited by many tourists both local and foreign for its luxuriant vegetation and abundant activities to engage in.
Mabira forest receives most of the tourist coming to Uganda to enjoy nature. The main activities to do at Mabira forest include: nature walks, cycling, birding, wildlife viewing, zip lining, mountain hiking, cultural encounters or simple relaxation and camping/picnics among others.
Mabira forest is also a perfect place to learn about how natural resources and threatened species can be protected. The forest reserve can be explored using an extensive trail by foot, motorcycle or bicycle. All activities should start at the Mabira Eco-tourism Center to learn about nature and conservation.