Queen Elizabeth National Park is Uganda’s second biggest national park after Murchison Falls occupying close to 1,978 km square.
A World bio-sphere reserve with a RAMSAR wetland site, the park is situated astride the equator and located in south western Uganda lying on the base of the rift valley between Lakes George and Edward.
The national park borders Democratic Republic of Congo on its western side. It is sometimes referred to as the pearl of Africa. In Uganda Queen Elizabeth National Park is basically known for the big four animals that is the Elephants, Lions, Buffaloes and the Leopards. It is also classified as an Important Birding Area (IBA) by Birdlife International.
The history of Queen Elizabeth national park is one of the most fascinating. In the first quarter of the 1990’s in 1925, a department was set up to stop the Elephants from marauding villages and destroying cultivation- the overall aim being to keep the within certain boundaries, protecting both Elephants and people.
As a result, a series of game reserves, sanctuaries and national parks were established over the years. Across the border in Zaire, Parc national des Virunga was designated in 1925 by the Belgian colonial authorities and pressure to protect the adjoining ecosystem in Uganda led to the establishment of L. George game reserve and L. Edward game reserve in the in the late 1920’s.
Several geographic changes followed and later in 1952 it was gazetted into a national park known as Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The national park together with the Kyambura and Kigezi wild life reserves covers 2475 square kilometers. Its temperatures range from18oc to 280c. The wettest seasons in this Park are usually incurred in March to May and September to November receiving rains ranging from 750mm to 1250mm with an altitude of 910m above sea level at Lake Edward vicinity to 1,390 m above sea level in the crater area.
Queen Elizabeth National park boasts of a wide range of habitats ranging from savanna and wetlands to river line and low land forest. The area is dominantly covered with water and 250 square kilometers of Lake Shores. Lake George, Lake Edward, The Kazinga Channels, Ishasha River and a series of crater lakes provide a rich habitat for both mammal and birds offering a brilliant wildlife viewing opportunities to visitors. Added to all this is the beautiful scenic spectacular panorama and terrain.
Sir Andrew Cohen was wrote about it that; “the grandest view I have ever seen, looking north from Ankole escarpment, with lakes Edward and George and the Kazinga Channel in the foreground and the whole snow capped range of the Rwenzori as a backdrop.”
The park has 10 primate species, including chimpanzee, black and white colobus monkeys, olive baboons, red tailed monkeys, vervet monkeys. The park also has predators like lion, leopard, spotted hyena, side stripped jackal and also numerous antelope like bush back, water buck, oribi, topi, the shy and semi aquatic sitatunga and four species of duiker. Mammals in this park include; buffalo, elephant, hippo, mangoose.