Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary In Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary In Uganda

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary In Uganda : Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is a great destination not to miss on a Uganda safari and the only home to the wild rhinos, the sanctuary was established purposely to build a sustainable population of rhinos in Uganda and later relocate them back to their original habitat – protected areas.

ziwa rhino santuary

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has an area of 7,000 hectares of untouched rhino habitat, the sanctuary is not just a home for rhinos but also over 300 species of birds and several animals. The sanctuary also contains a guesthouse, a campground, restaurant, and a research and conservation center.

The sanctuary is non-profitable and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

 A Brief History Of Ziwa & Rhinos In Uganda

Historically, Uganda was home to both black and white colobus monkeys. But due to the post – independence conflicts and poaching, these fascinating African animals were declared extinct in the country in 1983. Following decades of peace and stability, the Rhino Fund Uganda started the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in 2005.

The sanctuary was started as a risky project with the release of 6 adult southern white rhinos, four rhinos were trans-located from Solio Ranch in Kenya and two from the Disney Animal Kingdom in USA.

The first successful birth occurred in June 2009 when baby Obama was born, the baby rhino was named Obama because his father is Kenyan and his mother is American. Since then, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has gone from strength to Strength and the current population stand at 34 rhinos. Now it has become one of the most inspiring conservation success stories in East Africa offering amazing rhino tracking experience on foot.

Ziwa Rhino Tracking

Tracking rhinos on foot is one of the most thrilling Uganda safari activities offering visitors a great chance to get close to the wonderful white rhinos than you ever could in a 4×4 safari vehicle.

Rhinos are listed among the Africa’s Big Five land animals, they are also the second-largest land mammals on earth today (coming second to only elephants), weighing up to 3.5 tonnes. Rhinos are distinguished by their skin and long nose horns, they are remarkably tough and quick Africa animals.

Their horns and bulky pre-historic appearance make them instantly recognizable but their unpredictable nature, strength and speed are legendary.

rhino tracking at ziwa rhino santuary

Even the bravest of rangers will be super alert around these massive mammals, but while on your rhino tracking on a Uganda safari it is entirely possible to safely get close to these pre-historic heavy weights on foot. Plus, during the trek you are supported by an important conservation program for this highly threatened animals.

How Is Rhino Tracking Done?

During rhino tracking, you can choose to do the excursion at any time of the day, however rhinos are most active in the early morning and late afternoon or early evening. You need to time your trek with that (watching them sleep is not exciting at all), so rhino tracking is best done between 8 am to 10 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.

Rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary starts with a short briefing about the rules and regulations, then embark on the actual tracking adventure. The rhinos are free to move around on the 7000 hectares of land.

Therefore, it is often required to drive to the areas where the rhinos are. Before trekking into the bush. During the trek, you will follow your guide while keeping yours voices low. Fortunately, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary terrain is flat, you just have to be careful with the occasional acacia thorn.

How Long In Rhino Tracking?

Rhino trekking at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary can take from 1½ to 2½ hours, this depends on the location of the rhinos. As you trek, you also see other wildlife.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to about 40 mammal species and over species of birds, when you find the rhinos your guide will whisper a few more safety instructions to you such as stay at least 6-7 meters away, don’t use flash and keep your voices low. Follow the instructions at all times, it is a spine – tingling experience.

ziwa rhino tracking

All your senses will be on the alert and every sight, sound and scent will be magnified. You are free to walk around the area and take photos as long as you stay near the guide.

Is It Really Safe To Track Wild Rhinos On Foot?

 All the other four members of the Big Five can be been in Uganda’s national parks, but the rhinos can only be seen in the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, this makes it possible to see all the members of the Big Five while on a Uganda Safari.

The term Big 5 was coined in the late 1800s during African’s colonial period referring to what trophy hunters considered the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot.

While rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, it is unlikely that anything bad will happen to you on foot. So, the answer is rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is safe. All you need is to follow your ranger guide’s instructions.

Please remember that these are wild rhinos and even if they are living in a fenced area, the premises of tracking wild rhinos on foot in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is dependent on the fact that these massive mammals have very poor eyesight. So the aim is to keep you out of their vision the entire time. Still, they could be able to hear you but because most of these rhinos have no memories of being threatened by humans that won’t alarm them.

Ziwa Rhino Tracking Fees 2024

Like other Uganda Safari Activities, rhino tracking in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is priced and the table below shows the costs inclusive of the sanctary entrance fees per visitor category

  • Foreign Non-Resident (Adult) – USD $50
  • Foreign Non-Resident (Child) – USD $25
  • Foreign Residents (Adult) – USD $40
  • Foreign Residents (child) – USD $20
  • East African Citizens (Adult) – UGX 30,000
  • East African Citizens (child) – UGX 10,000

Best Time For Ziwa Rhino Tracking

The best time to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary for rhino tracking is during the dry seasons of December to February and June to October, this is also the best time to visit other Uganda safari destinations for wildlife game viewing. During this period, there are low chances of the rain ruining your day’s excursion.

Rhinos are most active in the mornings and late in the afternoon,

 More Activities To Do At Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary                                                                             

Shoebill Trek and Canoe Ride

The incredible shoebill is one of the most sought after birds in Uganda and at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, they can be spotted within the swamps. An early morning (06:00 am) shoebill trek  and canoe ride through the swamp not only gives you the opportunity to find the shoebill, but also to see the beautiful Ugandan sunrise. There are other beautiful water birds to lookout for.

Birding Walk

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to more than 300 bird species, the sanctuary has 4 bird watching trails covering woodlands, swamp and savannah. Some of the birds to look out for include Shoebill. The shoebill, Grey-crowned Crane, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, Pied Kingfisher, African Grey Hornbill, African Pygmy Kingfisher and Marabou Stork among others.

 How To Get To Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary?

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located in Nakasongola District about 123 kilometers northwest of Uganda’s capital which is a drive of 4-5 hours, the sanctuary is situated near Budongo Forest and Murchison Falls National Park.

It is possible to visit Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary on a day trip from Kampala or Entebbe, you ust need to get a very early morning start.

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