Ajai Game Reserve is found in Arua District in the Northern Uganda along the western bank of white Nile. The reserve is at an elevation of 658 meters and occupied by a large island. It is surrounded by flooded swamps and wooded savanna vegetation. Ajai is small game reserve covering about 16,600 hectares of land only. Like any other reserve, it’s under the management of the Uganda wildlife authority. It is a great place recommended to visit on your while in Uganda.
The reserve was established to safeguard the white rhinoceros although today, they are no longer in the place. Ajai Game Reserve was initially put under the private protection of the influential local chief called Ajai in 1937. Until year later in 1980, the reserve protected one of the few remaining populations of White Rhinos. The Uganda government has plans to reintroduce the Rhino.
Prior to being accorded a wildlife reserve status in 1965, the Ajai Rhino Sanctuary was habitat to 60 of Uganda’s 80 remaining white rhino then. In 2002, 12 square kilometers were sliced off the reserve to create space for people to settle on. The Uganda Wildlife Auhority privatized the operation of Ajai in 2008 and this concession was given to a photographic and hunting tour operator. Ajai is among the several wildlife reserves in Uganda that are under the management of Uganda government.
Originally, this wildlife reserve was under private protection, it was under the management of a local chief called Ajai by then who ruled in 1930s. This is where the reserve received its name from. In 1980s, this reserve remained a home to the few white rhinos that Uganda still had then thus the reason why it was called the Ajai Rhino Sanctuary. It had a total of 60 rhinos out of the 80 animals that Uganda had at that time. When the locals started hunting these rhinos, the World Wildlife Fund sponsored an anti-poaching project that was carried out in the reserve in 1962 although that did not stop the poachers from hunting them to extinction. Later on, people started using the land for their personal use for instance, in 2002 about 12 km2 of land was cut off the reserve land to create more land for the growing population and so more land for human settlements was needed.
It takes about 6 to 8 hours’ drive from Kampala and about 50 minutes from Kampala or Entebbe International Airport to Arua Airstrip, from where you will be picked to access the reserve by road.
Wildlife existing in the park comprise of buffaloes, hartebeests, bush-bucks, warthogs, hippopotamuses and water bucks. Others are the Uganda Kob, Common Duiker, Black & White Colobus, Olive baboon, Vervet Monkey, Leopard, Oribi, Sitatunga, Crocodiles and python snake are commonly seen plus a multiplicity of bird species.
Currently, the Uganda government through the Uganda wildlife Authority has plans in reintroducing rhinos and buffaloes back into this reserve. To be able to see these animals, you can take a nature walk or just drive around the reserve is your safari vehicle. There is also variety bird species and those that are interested in bird watching; you will definitely enjoy the trip to Ajai wildlife reserve once you realize how good a birding site this place is.