Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is a non-governmental organisation formed in the 1997 with intention of repopulating the wild Rhinos in Uganda. During the wars in 1970s along with massive poaching in Uganda national parks like Kidepo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, etc especially in Murchison falls national park, Rhinos were declared extinct in Uganda by 1983 and hence formation of the Rhino fund to revive the rhinoceros species in Uganda. Therefore the purpose of the Rhino Fund is to revive the wild rhinos with a vital aspect of environmental and cultural heritage through breeding and release programs.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is seated on a 7,000 hectare piece of land covered with Savannah and woodland type of vegetation. This land is owned by one Ugandan citizen Captain Joe Roy who agreed to a land usage license to give rights to Rhino Fund a sole usage for 30 years renewable.
From this, 6 southern white rhinos were trans located in 2005/6 with 4 from Kenya and 2 from Disney Animal Kingdom – USA. It was later 4 years that the first rhino was born in March 2008, next year, the Rhino fund registered the birth of the first male rhino in approximately 30 years.
The Rhino Fund named him Obama born of mother from USA and Father from Kenya, how interesting! Since then, 18 more rhinos were born on regular intervals with the last on in 2018. Currently the Rhino Fund has registered 24 rhinos on the sanctuary, mating is ongoing promising further addition to the group.
Due to the safe environment and excellent grazing grounds for the animals throughout the year, the sanctuary has attracted more animals like the antelopes hence boosting tourism in the area. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is now visited regularly by tourists given that it’s the only place to see wild Rhinos in Uganda. Activities done while at the Sanctuary include;
On foot Rhino trekking; Rhinos are one of the Big 5 game together with the Lions, Buffaloes, Leopards and Elephants. This activity is a once in a lifetime to do while on your Uganda safari. Once you arrive at the Sanctuary, you will gather at the offices with your trekking gears that are closed shoes and long pants along with your bottled water and insect repellent. Meet trained knowledgeable armed ranger guides who will guide you through the bush to where the rhinos will be located at that particular time.
Rhinos are herbivores and they feed on only vegetation especially foliage of trees and bushes. They spend their morning and evening hours feeding and during the day resting under the trees. After meeting the ranger guide, drive to where the Rhinos are ought to be before you start the bush trek. As you trek through the bush, you will get an opportunity to find and watch the endangered rhinos either grazing or resting depending on your time of visit. Trekking time is between 1 to 2 hours depending on the location of the Rhino. Trekking is available all day although its best recommended to trek from 8 am to 10 am or from 16 hours to 18 hours.
Shoebill trek and Canoe ride; Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is also swampy and it’s a habitat of the most sought bird in Uganda, the shoebill stork. The sanctuary is one of those few places in Uganda where a tourist is guaranteed of seeing of seeing the stocks. Taking a canoe ride through the swamp not only gives an opportunity to see the shoebill stock but also a chance to experience the fascinatingly incredible sunrise over the Lugogo swamp. To be able to experience the sunrise on a canoe ride and to able to see the shoebill stock, one has be at the site as early as 6 am, going on to about 10am.
Night walks; Ziwa Rhino sanctuary has many nocturnal animals and a guided night walk in the sanctuary is also an interesting activity that a tourist ought to experience because the night walks introduce you to night sounds and sensations you never heard of. Walking gears for a night walk include; long pants, closed shoes, insect repellent and flashlight. This activity would take about 2 hours and its best done form 20 hour to 23 hours.
Bird walks; Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a place not to be missed for bird lovers. It has over 300 bird species with about 4 bird trails covered with woodlands, swamp and Savannah. Tourists are able to see some of the birds during the bird walk. The best time for bird watching is 7 am to 9 am and 16 hours to 18 hours, taking about 2 hours. Guided nature walks; for nature lovers, the sanctuary is a home to a variety of animals, birds and reptiles.
During a nature walk, you will be guided by trained ranger guides who are knowledgeable about flora and fauna found in the sanctuary. Walk through the lush bush with sounds and smells of different species. Recommended time for this activity are 7 hours and 16 hours taking about 2 hours.