White Nile River Basin Expedition – Lake Mburo

Welcome to #4 in a series of blogs written by Alison Jones before her departure to Uganda and Kenya as NWNL’s lead photographer.

Pink-backed pelicans, Kenya

Pink-backed pelicans, Kenya

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Date: Sat–Mon, 27–29 March 2010 /Entry 4
Reporter: Alison M. Jones
Location: Lake Mburo National Park

We leave Entebbe now, and for the next 15 days NWNL will be investigating conservation and stewardship in the vulnerable White Nile River Basin. My focus will be on sustainable resource management that can protect the region’s ecosystems and species – including humans. Degradation and poverty in this White Nile sub-watershed foreshadow future problems elsewhere in the greater Nile River Basin and throughout Africa. This month’s devastating mudslides in Uganda’s White Nile headwaters are said to be due to uncontrolled deforestation and settlement, much like the conditions NWNL has documented in the Mara River Basin’s Mau Forest. The human impacts of these disasters range from no access to water, to water-related diseases, and conflicts over natural resource usage.

There are consequences for the watershed’s renowned wildlife as well. Lake Mburo National Park’s acacia woodland and kopjes are home to roan, eland, impala, zebra, waterbuck and 310 bird species. In the park’s five lakes, there are hippo, crocs and sitatunga. Red, black- and yellow-crowned gonolek are found in papyrus swamps. I particularly look forward to a boat trip that will provide access to 26 species of open-water birds include pink-backed and white pelicans, darter, fish eagle, long-tailed and greater cormorant, white-winged black tern, pied kingfisher, African finfoot, great white egret, and night heron.

From the field: Entebbe’s Botanical Garden is a great introduction to indigenous species of flora and bird species in the White Nile River Basin. I was as thrilled by the small, finch-like bronze mannequins as I was by a pair of great blue turacos flying over an umbrella tree. A recently painted sign at the entrance set the tone for visitors – and all of us around the world:
1. The human understanding is limited by the available knowledge.
2. Utilization of our biological resources is based on our understanding at a given time.
3. Therefore the search for more knowledge must continue so that we understand our biological resources better, thus utilize them optimally.
4. As we do search and utilize, let us conserve for the future. Who knows what? The future outlook may be different.

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