Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Karamoja Sub Region
Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is a protected area found in the Karamoja sub region of north eastern Uganda. The reserve is the second biggest conservation protected area in Uganda after Murchison Falls National Park. Pian Upe occupies an area of approximately 2,043 square kilometres to the north of Mount Elgon. The southern part Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve was gazetted as Debasien Animal Sanctuary in 1958. A project led by government to turn the land just south of the Greek River for farming threatened the practicability of wildlife conservation in the area. And in 1964, the area was extended northward and rechristened Pian-Upe Game Reserve. In 2003, the scheme to degazette the reserve for agriculture for fruit production was blocked.
Much of the reserve land is characterized by uninterrupted Savannah and woodland. There are also small zones of riverine forestry and kopjes. Some of the reserve land is cultivated especially the portion close to the Greek River that is endangered by conversion.
The reserve has main tree types including the desert date and red acacia plus Harrisonia abyssinica, bush willows and the red spike-thorns. Shrubs at the wildlife reserve encompass the bush butterfly. The grassland most common grasses include the bristle species and thatching but less existent are the beard grasses as well as the lemon grasses. Along the rivers, there are visible Vlei bristlegrass plus the red nutsedge that dominate the banks and the lower vegetation cover burns very yearly basis.
UWA Restocking of Pian Upe
In a move to increase the number of wildlife in this game reserve, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) launched a programme for translocating animals to the destination. Among the animals brought to this game reserve so far from other national parks in Uganda include impalas and rothschild giraffes mainly from the wildlife-rich Murchison Falls National Park. Read, UWA Translocates 15 Giraffes ro Pian Upe Game Reserve from Murchison Falls.
Though the reserve at one time supported populations of the Big five safari animals including elephants, black rhinos and lions which are now nonexistent in the area. The last giraffe was said to have been poached in 1995.
But Ostriches and heart-beasts are confirmed there. According to the recent census, animals including buffaloes, baboons, bush-bucks, dik-diks, bush pigs, duiker, hares, Uganda kob,eland, ostriches, oribi, warthogs, reed buck and water-bucks were recorded in the reserve.
Reptiles in the Reserve
Pian Upe is habitat to gigantic rock pythons and minor but poisonous puff adders. Harmless water snakes have also been spotted in the reserve. The Savannah monitors are the largest lizards in Pian Upe Reserve. Others include the common agama skinks, geckos and the chameleons.
Major Activities in Pian Upe – Things to Do in Pian Upe
Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is among the most remarkable protected areas in the Karamoja sub region and one of the tourist attractions in Uganda. Due to its variety of wildlife, beautiful scenery, as well as hospitable communities, the reserve offer a number of activities to its visitors which include:-
- Bird watching safaris
- Mountain climbing and viewing physical features
- Guided nature walks
- Cultural community visits
- Visit to Napendio cave