What you have to know about Toro Semliki WildLife Reserve.
Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve was established as a game reserve in 1926 and was among the first protected areas to be gazetted. The main reason was to protect the large numbers of Uganda Kobs in the area. It covers an area of 542 km2. It is located in western Uganda, within Ntoroko and Kabarole districts.
Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve enjoys a dramatic rift valley setting between the Rwenzori, Kijura escarpment and Lake Albert. The dominant vegetation type is the open acacia-combretum woodland and grassy savannah, interspersed with patches of Borassus palm forest, significant belts of riparian woodland along the main watercourses, as well as some extensive swamps towards Lake Albert. The reserve itself is topographically unremarkable, set at a relatively low altitude starting from around 700m above sea level, but on a clear day, the setting is truly awesome, with the sheer rift valley escarpment rising sharply from the eastern shore of Lake Albert, the 2500m-high Congolese Blue mountains on the western horizon and the mighty glacial peaks of the Rwenzori visible to the south-west.
There are four communities living around the reserve.
This community is situated in the south of the reserve, about 18km from Fort Portal town. The area is mainly inhabited by the Bakonjo who are traditional cultivators. The most important crops grown are maize, cassava, beans, soya beans, rice and bananas some of which is sold in Rwebisengo and Ntoroko markets
This community is located on the west and northwestern edge of the reserve in the Semliki Flats. The community mainly comprises the Batuku (Batoro-Bahuma), who are predominantly pastoralists. The Batuku are believed to be descendants of the Abarusula who were the royal army of the king Kabalega of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom
NTOROKO FISHING COMMUNITY:
This community is situated at the south-eastern tip of Lake Albert between the estuaries of Wasa and Muzizi rivers. The area, covering approximately 4km2 has now been excised from the reserve and gazetted as a Wildlife Sanctuary to offer protection of any wildlife that interface in this area. The Ntoroko community depends mainly on fishing.
This community is located on the eastern escarpment of the rift valley. The majority of them are the Bakiga migrants who originally came to work in the tea estates in the 1960s. During the good economic times, tea provided a stable income. As the prices of tea deteriorated, they resorted to crop cultivation mainly beans, groundnuts, maize and bananas.
Kampala Fort Portal via Mubende is 290km and Kampala –Fort Portal via Masaka-Mbarara-Kasese is about 465 km. Follow the route to Semuliki National Park from Fort Portal for the first 28 km before turning right at Karugutu trading centre. The reserve boundary is 3km further on and the turn off to Semliki Safari Lodge is 26km further on just beyond the bridge over the river wasa. Branch to the right 3km to the Lodge. Lake Albert is further on 25km ahead at Ntoroko fishing village where UWA manages bandas, a campsite and a canteen.
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