PIAN UPE WILDLIFE RESERVE, NATURE UNLEASHED.
Pian Upe wildlife reserve is the second largest game reserve located in the Karamoja sub-region of north-eastern Uganda. The reserve covers an area of 2788sq.km and is known for its diverse wildlife and wide range of bird species.
Pian Upe wildlife reserve is situated in Nakapiripiti district with 8 other districts which are partly covered by the reserve. The districts include Bulambuli, Katakwi, Moroto, Bukedea, Napak, Kumi, Amudati and Kween
HISTORY OF PIAN UPE WILDLIFE RESERVE;
- Years back, the area where the reserve is situated was a famous battleground for two traditional groups who were involved in ruthless cattle rustling. The two groups consisted of the Karamojong from north-eastern Uganda and the Pokot from Kenya.
- The main road which passes through the reserve into Matheniko reserve and Bokora reserve leading to Kidepo valley national park. This road was a boundary which both groups crossed to raid each other’s cattle. Peace has however returned to this region and tourism continues to flourish.
- In 1958, the southern part of Pian Upe wildlife reserve was gazetted as Debasien animal sanctuary. The government of Uganda, fortunately, has expressed interest in upgrading Pian Upe wildlife reserve to a national park status.
Attractions found in Pian Upe wildlife reserve:
- Wildlife; The reserve is a habitat to large and small mammals that visitors can see on their Uganda safari. The mammals include zebras, buffaloes, serval and wild cats, roan antelopes, dik-dik, the Uganda kob, hedgehogs and many more.
- Primates; Pian Upe is also a home to primates such as olive baboons, vervet and patas monkeys.
- Birds; The wildlife reserve is a birds haven with a variety of bird species which makes it the perfect spot for bird watching. The rare birds that visitors will sight while on their safaris in the reserve include the uncommon ostrich, great hartlaub’s bustard, secretary bird and many more.
- Reptiles; Pian Upe is a home to reptiles like rock pythons, puff adders, harmless water snakes, geckos, common agama, skinks, monitor lizards and chameleons.
- Mount Kadam and rocky hills; Mount Kadam is the second highest volcanic mountain in the Karamoja region with the highest peak at 3063m. The reserve also has rocky hills which favor hiking. Further more, there are mercury wells at Mount Kadam.
- Cheposukunya hot springs; These hot springs spill out hot water from the ground and attract many tourists. These hot springs are potential for Geothermal tapping.
- Flora; The reserve is dominated by tree species such as red acacia, harrisonia, Abyssinia, desert date, shrubs like butterfly pea and many more.
ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT IN PIAN UPE WILDLIFE RESERVE:
- Game drives; The reserve offers both morning and evening guided game drives. These game drives offer visitors a chance to see animals such as lions, giraffes, zebras, cheetahs, Uganda kob, hyenas and many more.
- Bird watching; The wildlife reserve is a birder’s paradise with over 100 species of birds including the uncommon ostrich. Birding is best done around Cheposukunya hot springs with an experienced bird guide who will help you view bird species including secretary bird, dusky turtle dove, Abyssinian ground hornbill, cranes and many more.
- Cultural encounters; Visitors can embark on cultural tours around the reserve where they will interact with local people. Visitors will learn about the life styles, traditions, dressing styles of the Karamojong during the cultural encounters. You can also participate in traditional dances, music and drama.
- Hiking; The reserve has physical features such as mount Kadam and rocky hills which favor hiking. Visitors can hike to the peak of mount Kadam as they see the scenic beauty of Pian Upe wildlife reserve.
- Nature walks; Visitors can have nature walks in the reserve’s woodlands and savannah. Nature walks will offer the visitor a chance to see animals such as buffaloes, giraffes, lions and many more in their natural habitat. Its on these nature walks that visitors will view birds like the uncommon ostrich, green bitta and many more.
The Government of Uganda is looking forward to making Pian Upe wildlife reserve a national park and there are efforts of introducing more animals in the reserve. Restoring wildlife numbers in the reserve is already in process as well as plans to open up more communities for tourism development.