The annual waterfowl counts is a programme coordinated by NatureUganda secretariat through a team of volunteers who are bird enthusiasts. The programme is used as an avenue to train young biologists who are presumed the next people to continue with the programme and train others too.
The water bird monitoring specifically provides clear description of water bird patterns (resident and migratory) including their roosting, feeding and/or breeding sites.
It also estimates water bird numbers providing baselines for species composition.This means spatial and temporal patterns can be demonstrated including their sites.
It also contributes to the global efforts of water bird monitoring while contributing data to national and global WFC Databases, an avenue for advocacy for site conservation action or interventions.
Generally, the program helps conservation NGOs, governments, national data bases, international data bases in contributing to valuable information.
There are 28 regular sites currently in Uganda covering 14 IBAs where waterfowl counts are conducted. There are also 14 other sites in non-IBA areas.
The places visited include wetlands, open water bodies, crater lakes, ponds and islands. This kind of habitat diversity makes Uganda one of the richest countries in terms of bird species. The wetlands and open waters are good places for feeding, breeding and roosting of the water birds. Therefore the water bird survey is designed to strengthen the water bird monitoring program that produces detailed analyses of habitats, trends and patterns every January and July.
Support for field expenses is provided by NatureUganda and other collaborating institutions namely the Wetlands Management Department (WMD), Makerere University Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (MUIENR) and Makerere University Walter Reed Project (MUWRP). In the past, this programme used to be supported with funds from WWF, GEF and USAID.
The waterfowl program has generated important data and information to serve several purposes. The information collected from various sites was vital to the designation of additional to 10 Ramsar sites in Uganda. The data is also used as an advocacy tool and therefore contributed to Environmenta Impact Assesment processes.
Monitoring has led to development of site conservation projects where local community resource ownership is promoted through bye-laws.
The idea of using volunteers and training young energetic monitoring teams has helped sustain the program from the time it was started till now. Collaboration with other institutions has helped in maximizing of resources since the water bird counts can be done along side other activities. The monitoring through local community groups (LCG) or site support groups (SSGs) when well coordinated are effective and can contribute information to the development of conservation action projects and sustainability of conservation initiatives.
Listed below are links, to publications and reports on IBA monitoring:
Status & Trends
Dates are usually between January 3rd to 18th and also between July 1st to 14th every year.