Are you planning to make a safari to North western Uganda, and you are wondering what attractions/destination you can visit for an ultimate safari experience? Ajai Wildlife reserve awaits you. Ajai Wildlife Reserve is situated in northern Uganda along the western shores of the mighty Albert Nile near Arua district, covered by grassland. This small Wildlife Reserve spans at 166 square kilometers (16600 hectares) of land and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. With all the treasures that this Wildlife Reserve holds, it is a perfect place for a safari in a secluded environment given the fact that it is often neglected by tourists on a safari. Its landscape is dominated by a vast island and its surrounding is at times flooded by swamps in addition to savannah woodland vegetation.
Initially, Ajai Wildlife Reserve was managed by a local chief named “Ajai” who led in the 1930s hence the Reserve derived it name from him. Up to 1980, the Wildlife Reserve was one of the homes to the few White Rhinos in Uganda and is now extinct within the Wildlife Reserve-this explains why it used to be called Ajai Rhino Sanctuary. At that time, it sheltered over 60 white Rhinos of the total 80 of these mammals that Uganda had. When the local community members began hunting the Rhinos, an International Organization called the World Wildlife Fund facilitated an Anti-poaching initiative that was conducted throughout the Wildlife Reserve in 1962, though it didn’t deter the poachers from hunting these mammals until they became extinct. After the local people began using the land (of the Wildlife Reserve) for their own personal use such as grazing and cultivation. In 2002, approximately 12 square Kilometers of land was reduced from the Wildlife Reserve to create more land for cultivation and human settlement.
Six years later, the Uganda Wildlife Authority came in and privatized some of the management and operations of Ajai Wildlife Reserve, with special consideration given to the Uganda Wildlife Safaris Limited which is a private hunting and photographic tour operator.
Wildlife Species within the Wildlife Reserve
Much as the White Rhinos are now extinct within the Wildlife reserve, you will encounter other fascinating wildlife species that include primates such as the Olive baboons, the black and white colobus monkeys and the Vervet monkeys, the warthogs, the Sitatungas, the lions, the Lelwel Hartebeest, the Leopards, the Warthogs, Sitatungas, the Blue duikers, the zebras, Common Duiker, the Oribis, as well as Uganda Kobs among others. There are several aquatic Wildlife Species such as the Hippos and the Crocodiles and other reptiles such as the Pythons.
Presently, there are plans by the Uganda Wildlife Authority to re-introduce the Nile Buffaloes and White Rhinos back into Ajai Wildlife Reserve. In order to explore these interesting wildlife and several bird species, a nature walk or a game drive around the game reserve is a good idea.
There are several bird species that call Ajai Wildlife reserve home and they include the Grey Crowned cranes, Marabou stocks and African fish eagles among others.
Best time to visit Ajai Wildlife Reserve
This Reserve is open for tourist visitation at all times of the year but the dry season (December to early March and June to October) is the best. The rainy season is in the months of April, May, October and November.
Where to stay within Ajai Wildlife Reserve
There are no accommodation facilities within the Wildlife Reserve, but can be booked from Gulu or Arua Town. Tourists who always travel to Ajai always link from or to Murchison Falls National Park or Gulu Town for overnight.
How to Get to Ajai Wildlife Reserve
This destination can be accessed by both Air and road transport. It takes from 6-7 hours drive from Kampala to Arua Town where the Wildlife reserve is located. With air transport, scheduled and charter flights can be organized to Arua Airfield.