New Vision (Kampala)

24 September 2007

Uganda: The Crested Crane - Uganda's Bird of Pride

Kampala — AWAY from the bustle and hustle of the conference halls, Uganda has a lot to offer during the Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). The country has a rich national heritage which pronounces the country's amazing uniqueness. The country's friendly people, mystic cultural sites and natural endowment, combine to produce a splendid cocktail of elegant adventure for visitors.

The crested crane, a symbol on Uganda's coat of arms, will be a bird worth seeing, especially for those coming to Uganda for the first time. The crested crane is a bird that many would love to touch and feel with their own hands. The crested crane in many ways, depicts the characteristic of Ugandans. It is hospitable, graceful and can live with people in peace.

The bird bears the colours of the national flag. It has long legs and its head has striped lines. The characteristic trademark of a crested crane is standing on one leg, appearing as if it is constantly taking a step forward.

The global population of crested cranes is estimated at between 85,000-95,000, with the majority being represented by the East African subspecies (Balearica regulorum gibbericeps).

According to the International Crane Foundation (ICF), Africa is home to six species of cranes, including resident Black Crowned, Grey crowned, Wattled, Blue cranes, Wintering Eurasian and demoiselle cranes. ICF is running a Community-Based Conservation programme of Grey Crowned Cranes and Wetlands in the Lake Victoria Basin of East Africa.

When visitors come for the summit, they will have a chance to watch these birds and will discover that Uganda is a true African bird destination.

Uganda has almost half of the bird species known on the African continent and over 10% of those recorded throughout the entire world.

Over 1,000 species of birds have been recorded to exist in the country. Some of the exciting species to view include birds of water and land, birds of scrub and woodland, forest birds and birds of the open plain.

Most of Uganda's national parks have a diversity of bird species; however, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Bwindi Impenetrable and Semliki National Parks are the most famous for bird watching.

Bird sanctuaries in Uganda can be found at Lutembe Bay, where almost the entire population of the white-winged black ferns perch.

Another area is Mabamba Swamp near Entebbe International Airport and Kitubulu Reserve, also in Entebbe.

The others are Mabira Forest Reserve, a 45-minute drive from Kampala City and Mpanga Forest Reserve, about a 30-minute drive away.

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