Katonga Wildlife Reserve is a savannah grassland ecosystem located within Kyenjojo and Kamwenge Districts. The journey into the Reserve is a three – hours’ drive from Kampala to Kyegegwa Town Council. The reserve is situated in the middle of Uganda on the western direction from Kampala. Katonga wildlife reserve can be explored by visitors on both footing and using canoes because there are no roads networks allowing safari vehicle to access the reserve. It is one of the unpopular reserves visited in Uganda and this has made the reserve to be left out by most of the travelers when spending their holidays in Uganda.
Katonga Wildlife Reserve with an area of 207 square kilometers was gazetted in 1964 as a game reserve, to serve as a corridor for migrating wildlife from Western Uganda to Tanzania and Sudan. It became a Wildlife Reserve in 1996 when the former Game Department and Uganda National Parks merged to form Uganda Wildlife Authority. Today, the reserve is managed by Uganda Wildlife Auothority under the Kibale Conservation Area administration.
The beautiful scenery of Katonga game reserve characterized with ever green rainforest as well as papyrus swamps and savanna vegetation are acting as habitat to different wildlife and bird-life that form the highlight attractions in the Reserve. The game reserve is strategically located on the extreme edges of the prominent Katonga river valley. The highly rewarding experience is accompanied with the views of unique water as well as papyrus elusive bird species, the Sitatunga and river otters. Wildlife in the game reserve is best viewed through participating in the guided nature walks in the different developed trails.
The reserve supports the survival of about 40 different mammal species which are of great interest to different world travelers who come to Uganda. Among the mammal species that can be easily seen include; species of the African elephants, river otter, water bucks, reed buck, the Uganda kob. The remarkable primate species include the olive baboons as well as the colobus monkeys. The reserve is unique since it’s the only best tourism destination in the East African region where travelers can have a chance of viewing the secretive sitatunga Antelope. In addition, the reserve is also a home to 150 elusive bird species and this enables it to be one of the prominent areas where visitors on birding safaris and tours to Uganda can easily enjoy the sounds and shining sights of the different bird species.
The Reserve is occupied with distinct vegetation types. Vegetation includes grasslands, wooded grasslands, woodlands, riverine woodlands, swamp, riverine grasslands, and papyrus. Most of the area is mixed savannah with acacia or woodland. However, large portions of the reserve are either permanent or seasonal wetlands. The reserve also contains various pockets of riverine and tropical forests. Its unique geographical location between forests swamps and savannah vegetation gives the reserve a diverse ecosystem that favours the existence of a variety of animal species. The most dominant plant species include Sporobolus festivus and Chloris gayana. These species exist with associate species like Setaria species, Hyparrhenia species and occasional Panicum maximum. The Katonga wetland system is interlinked with the Nile system forming an important wetland system for human survival. The variety of different vegetation types, particularly the wetlands, provides a range of habitats, which enhances the faunal diversity of the reserve.