Budongo Forest reserve covers an area of 793 km² of which only 53% is forest. The remaining 47% is grassland (Forest Department 1996a). The altitudinaal range is 700-1270m according to Reynolds & Reynolds 1965. This forest type is classified as medium altitude semi deciduous moist forest. Budongo has a high biodiversity with 24 species of small mammals; nine being primates; 465 species of trees and shrubs; 359 species of birds; 289 species of butterflies; and 130 species of moths (Forest Department 1996a). Budongo Forest Reserve was gazetted in 1932. Commercial extraction of timber has been ongoing since 1915. Today, some 77% of this forest has been cut at least once. The report by Forest Department (1996a), states that Budongo is in a serious ‘state of degradation’ due to the high levels of illegal pit sawing, hunting and human encroachment.
Budongo Forest boasts of a high biodiversity of 24 species of small animals and among them includes Chimpanzee tracking, primates, 465 species of trees and shrubs, 359 species of birds, 289 species of butterflies and 130 species of moths. The forest is renowned for its high number of mahogany trees and chimpanzees. The forest is believed to contain some 600 -700 chimpanzees.
Budongo Eco Lodge
In Kaniyo Pabidi, six groups of chimpanzees have been habituated or made familiar to people. In May, June, July and August visitors have over a 90% chance of seeing the chimpanzees. In February, March, April and September this drops to 70%, and in October, November, December and January, when food is scarcer, chances drop to 50%. For chimpanzee tracking its best to start early around 7.00 am. The guides follow the daily movements of the habituated chimpanzee groups. Three years of recording their movements indicate July, August and September offer a 90% success rate of seeing the chimps. In February, March, April, May and September this decreases to 70 %, and in October, November, December and January when food is scarcer chances drop to 50%. The fluctuating fruiting seasons of the forest trees determine the chimpanzees’ movements. It can take 30 minutes or all day to find them. Only children from 7 years and above are allowed to trek chimpanzees and a maximum of 6 people are allowed to encounter chimpanzees at once.
A minimum of 3 days required to explore Murchison falls national park for wildlife viewing, birding, boat cruise and chimps tracking / habituation experience in Budongo Forest Reserve. You can book a guided / escorted safari through Tour Operators, or take a self drive trip by hiring a 4×4 vehicle.