Gazetted in 1993, the park covers 793 Sq.Kms of rain forest, swamps, rivers and few areas of grassland. It is the most accessible of Uganda’s major rainforests, and the park headquarters, Kanyachu is only 36 kms from Fort portal town, while from Kampala to Kanyachu via Fortportal is a distance of 358km.
The diversity and density of primates in Kibale is the highest in Africa. The most famous of its 13 species is the chimpanzee, our closest relative. Ki bale’s 1450 chimpanzees represent Uganda’s largest population of this endangered primate. The forest is also home to East Africa’s largest population of the threatened red colobus and the rare I’Hoest’s monkey. Other primates include the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed and blue monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, olive baboon, bush baby and potto.
The major attraction to this park is the opportunity to track habituated chimps – these delightful apes, more closely related to humans than to any other living creature, are tremendous fun to watch as they squabble and play in fruiting trees. A network of shady forest trails provides much to delight botanists and butterfly lovers, while birders are in for a treat with 335 species recorded including the endemic Prirogrine’s ground thrush. The elusive forest elephant, smaller and hairier than its savannah counterpart, moves seasonally into the developed part of the park, while other terrestrial mammals include buffalo, giant forest hog and a half dozen antelope species.
In addition to chimpanzee tracking and bird watching, a well-developed network of nature trails allows tourists (for both kids and adults) spend time exploring several kilometers of rainforest. This can be at Sebitoli Forest Camp – where guided forest walks give chance to encounter primates such as red colobus, black-and-white colobus, blue monkeys and vervet monkeys. Visitors may also spot a variety of aquatic, forest and savannah birds and enjoy views of the Mpanga River.
Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary: Rich in biodiversity and beautiful scenery, the wetland is a birder’s paradise with about 138 species. Located outside the park in Magombe Swamp it also hosts eight species of primates including the black-and-white colobus, grey-cheeked mangabey, red-tailed, l’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons. Bushbucks and mongooses can also be found here. The sanctuary was set up to preserve the exclusive environmental features along with the wetland and is managed by the local community. Similarly, Kihingami Wetland located near Sebitoli in northern Kibale, is community-run project offering excellent bird watching and visits to the local tea estates and factory. Nature walks will bring you up close to primates such as the black-and-white colobus, red colobus and red-tailed monkeys. Other animals like otters, mongooses and bushbucks can be observed in the wetlands.
Vegetation-Kibale’s varied altitude supports different types of habitat, ranging from wet tropical forest on the Fort Portal plateau to woodland and savanna on the rift valley floor.
Other Wildlife of at least 70 mammal species are present in the park though ground-dwelling animals are difficult to see in dense forest. An estimated 500elephants are present, along with buffalos, leopards, warthogs, bush pigs, golden cats and duikers. A keen observer may spot reptiles and amphibians as well as a colorful variety of 250 species of butterflies.
The park also boasts of more than 375 species of birds. Kibale specials include the African Pitta, Green-breasted Pitta, Afep Pigeon, White-naped Pigeon, Crowned Eagle, Red-chested Owlet, Black Bee-eater, Western Nicator, Yellow-rumpedTinkerbird, Little Greenbul, Brown-chested Alethe, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, African Grey Parrot, Scaly-breasted Illadopsis ,Brown Illadopsis, Black-capped Apalis, Blue-headed Sunbird, Collared Apalis, Dusky Crimsonwing, Purple-breasted Sunbird, Red-faced Woodland Warbler, Yellow Spotted Nicator, Little Green Bul, Black-eared Ground Thrush and the Abyssinian Ground-thrush.