Ajai Wildlife Reserve; Ajai Wildlife Reserve is a small nature conservation protected area found in northeastern Uganda composed of large island surrounded by seasonally flooded swamps and wooded savanna grassland. It is located on the western bank of the White Nile estimating 40 kilometers east of Arua and spans its area of about 148 square kilometers. More then, Ajai wildlife reserve was created as a reserve in 1965 and don’t mind about its small area size just mind about the bucket of unique attraction to encounter around.
Historically, Ajai has been formed as a wildlife reserve in 1965 and known as a home to Rhino sanctuary that inhabited 60 species of the 80 remaining Uganda white rhinos. Eventually, the number decreased due to threatening of poaching that occurred in 1962, poachers hunted down animals for food consumptions and getting money from Rhino horns and by that time Rhino horns were valuable and network buyers were available who could pay money for them. Rhinos were easy to poach given that they do not look out for danger like other larger animals. Due to their number has rescued drastically attracting number of conservationist around the world. Another major reason that has lead for increase in poaching and as already noted was the growing human populations that put pressure on this reserve.
More so ,the construction of road to the reserve made it worse, through managing the reserve and controlling the poaching thus becoming difficult with so many humans who were living around the reserve. The World Wildlife Fund came out to solve the case through setting up office within reserve to stop poaching by engaging with communities and even offering incentives. This wasn’t enough to stop the extinction of the White Rhinos.
In 1970’s, the population of white Rhinos in the reserve and entire Uganda has reduced drastically. In the year when Idi Amin was being removed from power by Tanzanian troops –soldiers which took around area lead to hunting down the last Rhinos for their horns thus leading to decrease in number. Those which were left were removed and taken to the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and Wildlife Ranch in Nakasongola under the close care of the Uganda’s government and partner.
Currently, the Uganda wildlife Authority and Uganda Wildlife Safari ‘’a tour company’’ came out to mandate to the development of the reserve into astonishing tourist destination by setting up excellent accommodation facilities, roads, trails and an airstrip.
Activities ranged to engage in on visit include;
Sport hunting, Boat trips, Nature walks, Birding, Fishing, Photography tours, Uganda Wildlife Viewing. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is providing security and overall supervision.
However, it’s in arrangement the Uganda’s government to re-introduce more Rhinos in the reserve but due to the fear of poachers may lead to delay. But if it comes into serious work of re-introducing Rhinos in the area will lead the conservation of other threatened species in the reserve.
Unfortunately, in 2002 ,12 square kilometers were cut off of the reserve to make space for human settlements. Then in 2008 was put under the responsibility of ‘’UWA’’ Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Part of the reserve’s area like 35 kilometers supports the papyrus swamp along with grassy floodplains and savannah woodland. Animals to see includes; Uganda Kobs, Leopards, Hippo, Black and White Colobus and Warthog among others.
How to get there;
From Arua follow the surfaced Packwach Road south for 15 kilometers to Olevu then branch left on to a 40 kilometer along dirt road running east to the reserve.
From the main starting point to reach Ajai Wildlife Reserve can take about 6 to 7 hours. Then tourists booking a charter flight from Entebbe International AirPort to Arua Airstrip takes 1:20 minutes to land.
You can combine a visit to Uganda largest and most visited national park Murchison Falls National Park with a visit to the reserve for activities.
Best time to visit; Ajai Wildlife Reserve is open for visitors all year around but the best time to visit is during the dry seasons. The dry season happens between December to March and June to October. Wildlife viewing is best done on safari vehicle or engaging in Guided nature walk in reserve’s stunning trails or to the heart of the reserve.