Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is situated in Nakasongola district. It’s a famous home for only wild rhinos in Uganda. It’s a project of Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).
The sanctuary is conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma Trading centre). Ziwa is the only place where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild while on a safari in Uganda.
The Ziwa Sanctuary mission is to create a safe environment where Rhinos can multiply and be protected for future generations. The sanctuary is also responsible in ensuring conservation, education and community empowerment program in order to create awareness among Ugandans and visitors on the Rhinos while also keeping Uganda’s rich cultural heritage for future generations.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda that can make you achieve your dream of seeing the big Five animals. Why? This is the only place in Uganda where you can spot the Southern White Rhinos in the wild. Tourists can visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for these unique Wildlife species then proceed to Murchison falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park or Kidepo Valley National park to see four of the big five animals (Lions, Elephants, Buffaloes and Leopards) for the total satisfaction.
Because of the political instabilities that occurred in the 1970’s, most of Uganda’s wildlife protected areas experienced an intense illegal hunting which led acute reduction of not only rhinos but also other big game like the elephants. The last Rhino is believed to have been poached in Uganda’s wilderness in 1982 and in 2005, these endangered mammals were re-introduced with an intention that they will be re-introduced back to national parks for them to once more to survive.
If you want a complete “big five” experiences in Uganda, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place for tourists to add in their itinerary. Rhinos feature as the second biggest species of mammals on land after elephants and they got their names from two Greek words Rhinos denoting nose and ceros meaning horn.
These exceptional species of mammals come in five distinct species with two found in Africa and they include the Black and White Rhinos both featuring a pair of horns and always viewed in East and South African nations. The other three Rhino species are Asian type including the Indian also popular as the Great one horned rhinoceros primarily viewed in specific areas of India and Nepal. Also there is Javan rhino normally inhabited in Indonesia and Vietnam and both of them have one horn. The 5th category is Sumatran that can be sighted in Malaysia and Indonesia and they have two horns.
A trek to view these stunning mammals is the most thrilling experience worth exploring in Uganda. South Africa’s Northwest parks and Tourism Board donated in 2011, about 6 females. Ever since the re-introduction of these extra-ordinary mammals, Uganda is now proud to be a home to more than 20 members. The first Rhinos were given by Kenya (4) and 2 (two) from United States.
The white rhinos are natural gift in Uganda, they are monitored and patrolled by Rhino Fund Uganda’s rangers who are well trained and armed to ensure that they are protected and also collect data. Besides, there are also other wildlife species including the 26 species of mammals, the thickets and woodlands protect wildlife species like Uganda Kobs, Bushbuck, Pangolin, the Reed bucks, Rich bucks, Colobus and Vervet monkeys, Mongoose and others. The swamp area features Hippos, Crocodiles and numerous water species.
This Sanctuary is situated in Nakasongola district, 176 kilometers/100 miles North of the Kampala-Gulu Highway as you are heading to Murchison Falls National Park. There are currently 19 Southern White Rhinos that call this Sanctuary home. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary covers an area of 70 square kilometers/7000 hectares (27 square miles) and was established in 2005 solely to conserve the endangered Rhinos that were facing extinction. This Sanctuary is governed by the Uganda Rhino Fund. Besides the Rhinos that the Sanctuary is known for, there are over 40 species of mammals and 300 bird species that call this Place home. These mammals include Mongoose, Vevert monkeys, Antelopes like Oribis, kobs, waterbucks, bushbucks, Reedbucks and grey duikers, Black and white Colobus monkeys, Hartebeests, Hippos, Leopards, Ground Squirrels, and reptiles like Large monitor lizards and Crocodiles.
Things to Do in Semuliki National Park
While at Ziwa Rhino and wildlife Ranch Sanctuary, below are some of the tourist activities:
Rhino trekking is the main adventure in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. You will track these fascinating species through the thickets and normally takes 2 to 3 hours. The actual trek starts from the sanctuary headquarters together with an armed ranger guide who will be escorting and guiding you. They are knowledgeable and they will first brief you on the rules and regulations before you set to the wilderness to trek and also deliver the best information about these endangered mammal species. By nature, the White Rhinos are not violent and aggressive like the Black Rhinos and thus there are minimal attacks provided that you follow the tracking guidelines.
Shoebill Stork and Canoe ride – At first glance, shoebill stalks have a goofy charm due to their Dutch Clog-esque foot-long bill. Despite first impressions, this stork is an unassuming predator known to feast on baby crocodiles, big fish like tilapia and Nile monitor lizards. Head out on an early morning canoe ride in the adjacent swamp, to see this prehistoric looking bird and enjoy a beautiful sunrise over the Lugogo Swamp.
Bird watching – Those who love birds, Ziwa is an option. For those keen on bird watching, there are four different trails to choose from which take you across the savannah, woodlands or swamps, each a habitat to the various species of bird that live here. Early morning between 6am and 8 am and evening between 4pm and 6 pm are the best time for birding at Ziwa Rhino and wildlife Ranch sanctuary.
The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary also conserves large numbers of bird-life within its abundant woodland, grassland and some water birds in the swamps and valley dams that make up about 351 birds. Some of the birds to catch a glimpse in the sanctuary include the Meyer’s parrot also Brown parrot, Fork tailed kingfisher, Gabar goshawk, purple banded sunbird, Green winged ptyilia, Butler eagle, Martial eagle, Rupell’s long tailed starling, Black headed gonolek, African thrush, Double toothed barbet, African grey hornbill, Common bulbul and not to forget the elusive shoebill storks that you will sight around the Lugogo swamp.
These bird species provide amazing birding encounters for bird lovers who are interested in visiting this sanctuary in addition to Rhino tracking safaris. You will have enough time to photograph these remarkable species and ask as several questions as possible about the Rhinos and other wildlife in the sanctuary.
Nocturnal Walks – Ziwa is home to many nocturnal animals and some few nocturnal birds like owl. Nocturnal animals like Leopards, bushbabies and so on are so active at night but shy during day. You can target them between 8 pm and 11 pm. During these nature walks you will be accompanied by a ranger to offer you security and knowledge about the flora and fauna present in the sanctuary.
Nature walks often take between one and three hours and can be quite physically demanding. Make sure you have comfortable walking shoes, long trousers, insect repellent, a torch and bottled water.
What you Need for your Trip in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
When planning for a trip to this magnificent sanctuary, carry waterproof hiking boots or any other closed shoes not flip flops.
Carry a rain jacket/poncho and a sweater if you are travelling during the rainy season, and a hat and sunscreen to protect your head and eyes from the scotching sun if you are travelling during the dry season.
Insect repellant because there are so many mosquitoes within the area and avoid using flash cameras because they scare the Rhinos and may become aggressive and defensive.
Where to stay while at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
After enjoying your time with the Rhinos, you enjoy your overnight in the Amuka safari Lodge that offers comfortable accommodation, on-site restaurant that serves mouth-watering dishes and has a swimming pool for tourists who wish to just relax. There are also self-contained luxury tents where tourists can relax and spend an overnight.
How to reach Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
It is situated about 3 hours drive from Kampala, on the way to Murchison Falls National park in Nakasongola district near Nakitoma trading center where you will branch from.
In conclusion, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only place in Uganda where you can watch the Southern-white Rhinos in the wild, and achieve your dream of seeing the Big five animals while on a safari in Uganda. You will not only see the Rhinos but also other 40 mammal species including Mongoose, Vevert monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys and Antelopes like the waterbucks and elands among others. Over 300 bird species including the rare shoebill stork and the Giant kingfishers call the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary home.