Bugoma Central Forest Reserve

Bugoma Central Forest Reserve in Bunyoro Sub region

The Bugoma Central Forest Reserve is a protected tropical forest located in southwest of Hoima and northeast of Kyenjojo towns and east of Lake Albert, in Hoima district of western Uganda.  Gazetted in the 1932 and came under the mandate of the National Forestry Authority in 2003, the forest is among the tourist attractions in western Uganda. Bugoma forest was expanded in 1965, 1968 and 1998 and its current surface area is estimated at between 41,144 hectares (411.44 km2) and 65,000 hectares (650 km2).

The name Bugoma locally means “small drums“. The Omukama Kabalega used to train Abarusura (the royal army of Bunyoro) in the trees of Budongo’s royal mile that he planted himself. Budongo Royal Mile is a remarkable one-mile-long forest road that was made by Omukama Kabalega as a ground for military training for his Abarusura Army. Royal Mile in Budongo Central Forest Reserve offers a lovely calm forest walk joined with a delightful bird watching and great for anyone interested in nature or enjoying the forest.

Some of the trees species like Mwitansowera loosely translated as Killer of House insects are thought to have supernatural powers and are never logged or touched by anyone including the unlawful loggers and charcoal burners as they are assumed to shock anyone who touches it including insects. The Banyoro derive their totems which are either animals or plants forests such as Bugoma.

Wildlife in Bugoma Forest

Bugoma forest is a home to 23 species of mammal, 225 species of birds (which include Nahan’s Francolin and Grey Parrots, African crowned eagle), butterfly species like Anthene ituria and 260 plant species including Afrothismia winkleri, Brazzia longipedicellata and Dialium excelsum. In the forest are 20 species of forest amphibians believed to exist. Bugoma is much richer in species composition than any other forest around the region. The jungle is a home to a significant number of chimpanzees which started undergoing the habituation process in January 2016.

Bugoma has abundant primates including around 580 chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), a huge number of black and white colobus (Colubus Guereza), Ugandan mangabey (Lophocebus Ugandae), red tailed monkeys and blue monkeys. The Ugandan mangabey is only present in Bugoma, as it vanished from other forests in the region. Therefore, Bugoma is a chimpanzee safe haven with gravely endangered species. Of other animals, Bugoma hosts a small population of bush elephants, golden cats, side-striped jackals (Canis Adustus) and many more.

Bugoma Forest Reserve Setting and Structure

Bugoma central forest reserve is one of a belt of widespread, low-lying forests along Uganda’s western rift escarpment believed to have been joined with one another and the Ituri forest in the past years. The forest belt is located between an elevation of 500 and 1,650 metres and Bugoma itself is positioned at between 990 and 1,300 metres above sea level. Regional rain water ranges from 1,250 to 1,625 millimeters. Farmlands and redeveloping vegetation border the forests, which includes Elephant grass and Hyparrhenia grassland.

The tree cover of Bugoma Forest belt shows an inclination towards mono-specific domination. Early colonizing forest consists of a mixed forest with Alstonia congensis, Trichilia prieuriana, Khaya anthotheca, Celtis mildbraedii, and Cynometra Alexandri (Uganda ironwood), and others. The climax forest that develops afterward depends on the height above sea level. From 1000 to 1200 metres, Cynometra alexandri is highly dominant. Lasiodiscus mildbraedii and sometimes by Celtis spp. and Strychnos mitis sometimes dominate the understory. Very large trees other than Cynometra alexandri occur, such as Khaya spp. and Entandrophragma spp. Patches of distinguishing colonising specieslike Maesopsis spp mature alongside climax canopy species in a montage design in spaces left by the fall of huge trees. An additional type of climax community is the Parinari forest, comprising of almost pure stands of Parinari excelsa, related in the understorey with Carapa grandiflora. Other understorey species include Craterispermum laurinum, Trichilia prieuriana and Pleiocarpa pycnantha.

Bugoma Forest Conservation Status

Bugoma central forest reserve is gravely threatened by illegal logging, charcoal burning, hunting, mining and it is feared that it may capitulate to human settlement and farming. The forest situation is deteriorated by an inflow of Congolese refugees and increasing large-scale tea, sugarcane, rice and tobacco farms on its fringes that intrude on the reserve boundaries.