Meet the shoebill one of Uganda’s most sought after birds – Uganda safari news
Despite being one of the world’s slowest birds of flight, the Shoe-bill, with its relatively huge size is something to capture with your natural and artificial lenses while on a Safari in Uganda. Although a few shoe-bills vagrantly wander to central and mid-western Africa, bird lovers have a greater chance of seeing this bird around the inadequately oxygenated waters of the East African wetlands.
The “shoe-bill”, a name it gets from the shape of its round mouth, grows up to an average height ranging between 110 and 140 cm with some species reaching a record152 cm in height. They have an average weight of 4 to 7 kg, with the males generally heavier than the females. Another stunning characteristic is that shoe-bills can live for up to 25 years.
Shoe-bills are very patient hunters which move slowly and periodically stand still waiting for their prey to come to the surface of the water for a gasp of air. By the time the shoe-bill decides to send a strike at a terrific speed, it has already confirmed that it will not miss. This “stand-still” behavior has encouraged many to call them statues. The birds are a rare species and only the lucky few tourists will get a glance of them.
A Safari to Uganda’s National Parks of Semuliki, Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo should give you an opportunity of encountering this bird. Tourists can also meet the shoebill in the Mabamba swamp located 40 km west of Entebbe town by road. Also Safaris along the Kampala – Masaka road, in Wakiso district can climax in a chance to see this blue-grey dressed bird carrying out its daily errands in its natural habitat a swamp called Mabamba. Tourists will get more rewarding experience from the tour if they trace the birds using a canoe.
In a bid to conserve this rare species of birds, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) has rescued a number of shoe-bills from captivity by local communities. Safaris in Uganda to Entebbe can also lead to the Entebbe zoo where this giant feathery friend of ours can be found. The UWEC zoo is just a few minutes from Entebbe International Airport. From Kampala, tourists may travel for about 45 minutes depending on the traffic flow at the time of the day that they choose to schedule the tour. There are just a few places to see the legendary shoe-bill, but one thing I am sure of is that he waits for you to pay him a visit.
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