Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has set aside Shs 5bn (€1.1 million) to upgrade Katonga to a national park in order to diversify wildlife resources and boost tourism.
UWA intends to promote Katonga as the 'source of the source of River Nile'. Lying on the northern banks of River Katonga, the reserve covers 210 square kilometres in the Kamwenge and Kyegegwa districts.
Katonga and Kagera are the main rivers that pour into Lake Victoria, from which the Nile flows all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The Katonga flows both westwards, to pour into Lake George, and northwards into Lake Wamala in Mubende, and later into Lake Victoria to connect to the River Nile.
"We have earmarked that spot [at Bihanga] as the source of River Nile, and we have engaged scientists and geographers who have done studies and written about it," Samuel Amanya, Senior Warden at Katonga, told The Observer.
"This is a tourism product that we are seriously looking at because this offers a unique experience. Guests will walk along the river to the source of the Nile and, in the process, view the sitatungas," he added.
The 35km stretch of the Katonga River will take tourists about five days of an activity-packed trek. UWA has already secured the approval of the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) and is waiting for the proposal to be endorsed by Cabinet and, later, Parliament.
Dr Patrick Atimnedi, UWA’s Veterinary Co-ordinator, said: “Katonga is an additional tourism package that brings our products closer to tourists, especially those from Kibaale National Park and the Rwenzori cluster.”
Atimnedi and a team of other veterinarians, have recently translocated zebras, topis and elands from Lake Mburo National Park to Katonga in an effort to increase the animal population before it is declared a National Park. As a result, Katonga will become Uganda’s third national park that hosts zebra, meaning tourists with tight schedules will not have to drive to Lake Mburo, or Kidepo Valley National Parks.