Murchison Falls Big Five:
Murchison falls national park safaris are the only itineraries which can give you a chance to see the big five of Africa. The big five are the biggest mammal species of Africa. The term “big five” is not only used by the tourists to Uganda, but it is a widely used term by the world wide tourism industry; especially by the tour companies to market their national park itinerary. The big five animals are called so because they are very fierce when cornered.
Murchison falls National Park is found in the north eastern region of Uganda. From Kampala, you still drive to the north eastern direction along Kampala gulu route. Murchison falls national park is managed by the government body called the Uganda wildlife authority. Uganda wildlife authority is responsible for all the protected areas in Uganda. Murchison falls is the largest protected area in Uganda and it stretches over a vast land of about 3840 sq.km.
The park is a naturally endowed protected area with over 76 mammal species and 450 bird species. The wildlife in Murchison falls national park are supported by a wide range of ecosystems; they are habitant for the wild animals and birds, such as warthogs, duikers, antelopes, statungas, elephants, giraffes, lions, leopards, buffaloes and primates like monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees in kaniyo pabidi and budongo forest reserves.
The “big five” of Murchison falls national park
Murchison falls National Park is the only park in Uganda where you have a big opportunity to see all the big five game of Africa; however the white rhinos are found in ziwa rhino sanctuary, which is on an en route to Murchison falls national park. The big five animals include:
African elephants also known as loxodonta Africana; the African elephant is the largest mammal in the world. It is called the African elephant because its ears are shaped like the map of the African continent. The African elephant can grow up to 14 ft in height and 30 ft in width, they mainly live in forest and savannah woodlands of Murchison falls national park. The elephants in Murchison falls park live in large groups of about 100 animals called herds. The herds are led by a female member; something different in the wild.
The African elephants are so peaceful when not cornered, but become very aggressive if interfered with. The mother elephants are protective over their young ones, just like any mother would do. All elephants are herbivores and eat about 375kgs of green material including leaves and grass; they also take between 30 and 40 gallons of water, every day they live. The African elephants can live for over 70 years in the wild and 40 – 45 years when kept in captivity.
Lion also known as panthera Leo; the lions are the “most sought for” animals in Ugandan national parks. They are mainly found in the plain savannah grasslands and they are the king of the savannah in Africa. They prey on other game like kobs, buffaloes, antelopes among others. The lions in Murchison falls national park are called diurnal. This is so, because they are active in the morning during sunrise and in the evening when the sun is setting down; this is also the perfect time for the game drives in Murchison falls national park if at all you are going to see the lions in the savannah plains. The lions are renowned hyper carnivores because their diet is 75% meat or flesh. The largest lion can weigh between 150- 250 kg. The female are smaller and lighter than the male lions. The male lions are more aggressive and fierce when interfered with; they are also easily identified by their majestic dark colour manes. Despite the magnificent traits of the male lions, the lionesses are the leaders in any hunts, just as kings, the male lions come in only to assist where it is required.
The lions are the largest carnivores in Africa, they can run and cover over 60 meters in just six seconds. Despite their energy, the lions rest longer than the time they hunt; they can sleep for about 20 hours a day. The lions are adaptable to the savannah habitats, and not made for the dense forested areas, however, in Murchison falls national park. It is very possible, though rare, to find the lions during one of the nature walks in kaniyo pabidi forest reserve.
Leopard scientifically known as panthera pardus pardus; the largest leopard can weigh 60kg and a female 40kg. Unlike the lions, leopards can live in a variety of habitats in Murchison falls National Park like savannah woodland, forest and shrubs et cetera. They are truly unique carnivores because to their meaty meal, they supplement it with a snack of beetles. The leopards are hide hunters as they camouflage in the shrubs and wait for their prey.
The leopards are faster runners compared to the lions; 58 km per hour complimented with hops of about 6 metres high in the air. They are solitary animals; however, they can cross their territories just for the most important purpose of mating and breeding. There are two or three cubs per litter. The leopards are also the strongest feline family animals, and they are also incredibly agile.
Cape Buffaloes also known as syncerus caffer; you can tell the cape buffaloes from their unique horns that form continuous shield of hard bones known as a boss, that runs across the head. The buffaloes are ‘the most deadly’ of all the big five game; they are reported to have killed over 200 people in a year. The cape buffaloes are not in any history of ever been domesticated in anyway, this is so because they are extremely aggressive and dangerous to keep near humans. The buffaloes have wide shoulders making the big part very big and heavier compared to the hind part; perhaps it is the reason for the huge hooves of their front legs compared to the rare ones.
You can spot a number of buffaloes in Murchison falls national park, during the game drives in paraa region. The buffaloes live in herds of about 100 members. They protect the young ones by making a shield around they in case there is any attack by their predators; lions. They are Meta wild animals, they do not fumble at any time, after one hour of birth; they cape buffaloes start running like they are months older.
The female buffaloes give birth to only one calf; it is a rare case that two calves are born at the same time. The hide on the neck of the buffaloes is 2 inches thick; it is for protection from the predators. Also king kabalega of bunyoro kitara kingdom, history tells that he used to make shields from the hides of the buffaloes and hippos because their thickness and hardness.
White rhinos; the white rhinos are possible to be seen only if it is a Murchison falls national park safaris. The rhinos are wild animals with an acute sense of smell; it is the technique they use to look for food and also locate danger. The white rhinos have a lifespan of about 35- 40 years of age. A little like the hippos, the white rhinos hate too much sun and this is the reason why they are always spotted wallowing in the mud; it is a kind of sunscreen they use to prevent too much sun. The white rhinos are enormous mammals that they weigh between 800kg and 1400kg. Just like the other animals, the female rhino is smaller than the male. The male rhinos are also strong, powerful and fast, different from what you might take from your fast encounter with them. The white rhinos are critically endangered in all Africa.
The white rhinos, are the only members of the big five community that you can’t find inside Murchison falls national park, because they got extinct during the wars in northern Uganda a few years ago. However, you can see the white rhinos from ziwa rhino sanctuary an en route to Murchison falls national park. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is the only place where the white rhinos are kept and once you visit you can sleep at the spacious ziwa rhino camp. You can also enjoy the other activities when you visit the white rhinos in ziwa rhino sanctuary.