Conveniently nestled about 125 kilometers North of Kampala – Uganda’s capital and largest city, in Nakasongola District, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is the only destination in Uganda where wild rhinos still thrive. Before heavy poaching, Uganda had very many rhino populations but currently the numbers have totally diminished and the rhino tracking excursions can now take place only in the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary.
The Rhino Sanctuary can be an en route to or from the fascinating Murchison Falls National Park, on a trip which you are guaranteed of spotting all Africa’s big five species which include; African Lions, African Elephants, Cape buffaloes, African Leopards, and Rhinos.
The sanctuary’s main purpose is to repopulate rhinos in Uganda’s national parks which were declared extinct throughout Uganda in 1983. As of December 2019, the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary comprises of 30 rhinos, which is quite a progress as the sanctuary started with two rhinos from Disney Animal Kingdom (USA) before bringing in the other four rhinos from Kenya. 24 of the 30 rhinos are now off springs including the newly born one which is aged 2 months, as of now.
Since they were northern white rhinos that once populated Uganda, the rhinos in this sanctuary are technically considered an exotic breed! The first rhino was born in March 2008 but unfortunately the baby was a still born. The next year, 2009, a healthy male calf was born, making history by being the first rhino born in Uganda in about 30 years! The healthy male calf was named after the by then president of USA, Barrack Obama, who was of Kenyan descent yet the rhino’s parents were from Kenya and USA, father and mother, respectively.
Owned by a Ugandan citizen, Captain Joe Roy, the sanctuary is a private and non-profit animal sanctuary which operates on donations from various people. Without donations, the sanctuary is probably no more and thus your contribution is highly appreciated in advance. The animals are also named after the people who decide to donate to this sanctuary as a way of honoring them.
The money you pay for the Park entrance plus the donations help to conserve the animals in the sanctuary as well as the people who look after them. There are however other animals in the sanctuary besides the rhinos, such as; monkeys, antelopes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles and numerous bird species.
Tourist facilities at the sanctuary include a safari lodge, guest house, budget accommodation, and camp grounds. The accommodations are two separate businesses and both have restaurants that offer meals to tourists. In addition to on foot rhino trekking, tourist activities include birding, canoe rides and nature walks.
Due to the past miserable history about the killings of rhinos in Uganda, the sanctuary has a 24-hour tight security to ensure maximum safety of the rhinos. The sanctuary also has hopes of introducing the black rhinos though as of now it resides only the white rhinos. Why not giving a visit to this impressive rhino sanctuary on your trip to Murchison Falls National Park? A close encounter to these huge majestic animals is a one-of-a-kind!!