Kidepo National Park
Kidepo national park, is located near Karenga in Kaabong district which is found in the northeastern corner of Uganda. The park is approximately 220 kilometers or 140 miles, by road northwest of Moroto which is the largest town in the sub-region. Kidepo national park is approximately 520 kilometers or 320 miles by road, northeast of the capital city-Kampala. The northwest boundary of Kidepo national park runs along the international frontier with Bira, South Sudan and abuts against it’s Kidepo game reserve.
Kidepo national park started with a wonderful story of the ketebo or the meaning who are the original inhabitants farmers and hunters who lived in the area all the way from 1800 before it was even Gazetted as a game reserve by the British colonial government in around 1958.
The purpose was both to protect the animals from being hunted and also prevent further clearing of the bush for tsetse fly control.
The eviction of the residents especially the ketebo people who were forcefully relocated to the current Bira, Napotpot, Kalo kudo and Naukari in South Sudan, is cited in the contemporary protected area management as an example of the unacceptable consequences of not taking community needs into account when designating reserves.
The newly independent government of Uganda under Milton Obote converted the reserve into a national game park and this happened in 1962 and the first chief warden of the park was Ian Ross who was a Briton. But after a Ugandan replaced him and their handover and training was the subject of the 1974 American documentary films which is known as The wild and the brave. The park is covering an area of 1442 kilometers squared and it has an altitude that is ranging between 914 meters and 2750 meters above sea level.
Kidepo national park contains two rivers in its premises and some of these rivers include Kidepo and Narus and the interesting things about them is that these rivers disappear in the dry seasons leaving just pools for the wildlife.
Kidepo park, is surrounded by different kinds of people, the locals around Kidepo national park include Karamojong people that are found to be similar to the famous Maasai of Kenya and the IK which is a hunter gatherer tribe whose survival is threatened. Kidepo national park lies on the rugged, semi arid valley that is between Uganda’s borders with Sudan and Kenya which is some 700 kilometers from the capital city Kampala and it was gazetted as a national park in 1962.
It has a profusion of big game and also hosts over 77 mammal species as well as around 475 bird species The national park is also Uganda’s most isolated national park because few who make long journey to the north through the wild frontier region of karamoja. We can also agree that it’s also the most magnificent national park in Uganda because Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses from Apoka all the way to the heart of the par. A Savannah landscape extends far beyond the Gazetted area towards horizons that are outlined by distant mountain ranges.
During the dry seasons, the only permanent water in Kidepo national park is found in wetlands and remount pools in the broad of Narus valley that is near Apoka. These seasonal oases that are combined with the open Savannah terrain to make the Narus valley the park’s prime game viewing location due to the wilderness of Kidepo national park that is found in this wonderful valley.
Kidepo national park has wonderful geology and in this the park consists of only two major valley systems and these are Kidepo and Narus rivers. The valley floors lay between 3000 feets and 4000 feets.
Kanangorok is a tepid hot springs that is found in the extreme end northern part of Kidepo national park that is found in Lotukei and South Sudan boundary. The soil in Kidepo national park is clayey, in the valley there is black chalky clay and Sandy clay loam predominate and the Narus valley has got free draining red clay and loam soils.
In consideration to the above, the park has got a wide range of wildlife in its premises and these include the Open Savannah which came up as a result of differences in rainfall that is received in this area accompanied with annual average of 89 centimeters in Narus and only 69 centimeters in the Kidepo basin valley and due to this also animals population vary between the two valleys.
The Narus valley, received its name from the ketebo primary grass in the Narus valley have a characteristic of being short and these include red oat grass, taller bunchy guinea grass and fine thatching grass. Common trees in drier areas include red throne acacias, desert dates. Perennial water makes River Kidepo an oasis in the semi desert which hosts over 86 mammal species and those that are usually seen in this area include spotted hyena, lions, cheetah, leopard, wild dog, elephants, giraffe, zebra and African buffalos.
And in the Kidepo valley, there are streams which are likewise dotted with palms and in the higher area of this valley, they have whistling thorn acacias bushes.
Kidepo national park has also a big range conversation activities that are taking place in the park. During the 1960s, kidepo had sustainable Rothschild giraffe population of over 400 animals and by 1992 this had been poached down to only three animals, including a single female. In 1997 warden Peter Moller obtained funding from the Frankfurt zoological society to translocate giraffes from Kenya’s lake Nakuru national park and during this process one female died in the holding facility in lake Nakuru, two females and one male were flown to Kidepo national park.