ON THE LOOK OUT OF THE INHIBITED SHOE BILL STOCK.
With a world population estimated of 12000- 15000 individuals , the bird belongs to Appendix ii of cities and is classified as a globally near – threatened species .
Shoebills are initiate only in nine African countries and their range extends from south Sudan ,through Uganda and western Tanzania to south east Democratic Republic of congo and north west Zambia .In Uganda the shoebill has turned out to be the chief tourist attraction which leads to uganda birding tours . It has been recorded in the following areas.
- Queen Elizabeth National park and Lake Frequent in the swamps north of lake George and the shoe bill swamp west of the Hamukungu fishing village as well as swamps on lake Edward.
- Kyambura Wildlife Reserve. Commonly on the shores of Lake Goerge and occasionally recorded on a fresh water crater marsh ,kinera
- Semliki Wild life Reserve.It has recored on the edge of reed beds near to the mouth of Semliki Riiver close to Ntoroko fishing village and on lake Albert.
- Lake Mburo National Quite a lot of pares recognized to crop up in the papyrus swamp elongated in the river Ruizi. Unusual bird within the park, but encountered in the flooded seasonal grass swamps as well as clearings in stable swamp.
- Nabugabo Wet Land, Masaka District. recorded in marshes nearby to Lake Nabugabo and expected to be normal.
- Mabamba Bay, On the sea shore of Lake Victoria, is the Mabamba Bay wetland casing about 17,000 hectares of an breadth of miscanthus—a type of grass inhabitant to tropical and subtropical region—but more regularly known as papyrus. The open water in a shape of a canal, is worn to trail birds and away in Busi island that is a dwelling to over 40,000 people.
- Murchison Falls National Park. It is one of the most excellent places to see shoebills leading to birding tours.In 1997 a total of 15 birds were counted in one day.
- Ajaiwildlife Reserve ,Nebbi district –reported by local people from swamps near to the Nile River.
- Lake Nakuwa,soroti,Kamuli district –common in the swamps but highly mistreated by the local people for food and for sale.
- Lake Bisina, Kumi district – the far reaching swamp has not been surveyed .The most recorded were four pairs with young at the edge of the lake.
- Lake Opeta,Katakwi,Mbale ,Kumi and sorotiMajorswamps along Lake Victoria shores
The predictable shoebill population in Uganda is between 350 – 400 breeding pairs however the population of sparse available information shows that shoebills have very specific habitat requirements in terms of vegetation cover. They mainly roost inside papyrus swamps but feed in fairly open places with thick but short floating vegetation. In addition to that about 3.2squarekms of appropriate habitant to breed. A mixture of these factors hinders the allocation of shoebills to curbed areas within apparently fit habitant .even here, the population size can only remain small .Like all long-lived birds shoebills have low recruitment rates requiring many years before becoming and will easily abandon their nests with eggs or young at the slightest provocation.
A key threat to the continued existence of the species is a lack of information a bout the birds .In addition to this ,habitant loss is a particular problem .This results mainly from conversion of wet lands to agriculture .Also swamps are burnt for cultural reasons in search for grazing ,hurting and fishing among other reasons .These fires are mainly set during the dry season , but is not un common to find a wetland burning in every month of the year. These fires decimate any eggs or chicks that may be on the nest.
Up till now ,another problem the birds face is direct harvesting for food and trade –shoebills are trapped and / or shot in some areas of Uganda .This is especially true in the areas a round Lake Bisina and Opeta and the northern fringes of Lake Kyoga.Shoebill hunting for food is more widespread than hunting for trade.
There is also some persecution of the birds due to a belief in the fishing communities on Lake Kyoga that sighting a shoebill casts a bad omen on fishing endeavors. Therefore , in order to minimize the chances of sighting shoebill ,they are usually hunted and killed.