In Uganda, wildlife guiding is a profession that attracts people from all walks of life.
Interestingly, in contrast to a lot of other countries, in Uganda more women than men excel in this field. They share their profound understanding of nature and wildlife with all visitors, inspiring them to take a closer look. Thanks to their efforts, the local population gains valuable income from tourism, thus nature and species conservation become a priority for everybody.
Hero Image © Rick Bateman
Profession: Tour guide, conservationist, Chairperson of the Uganda Women Birders
What nature means to Judith: Nature and wildlife are not only beautiful, but they are the reasons I am living. They purify the air I breathe. Nature and wildlife are part of the ecosystem in which I live and in one way or another influence my surroundings. Above all, nature, birding, and wildlife are a source of learning and livelihood to me. They are also a hobby I enjoy doing as they relieve me from stress and comfort me anytime, any day. Nature, wildlife, and birding provide a platform for me to make friends and build a network all over the globe and travel to places I have never been to.
Favorite spot for birding: Mabamba Swamp
Best birding experience: In 2013, I was being trained to become a guide in Murchison Falls National Park. During this trip, a client gave me my first pair of binoculars as a gift. This day is still vivid in my memories. However, any day watching birds and wildlife is exciting.
Profession: Tour guide
What nature means to Abia: Nature, birding, and wildlife mean life to me. They entertain my soul but also sustain life as biological indicators.
Favorite spot for birding: Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Best birding experience: I have had several special experiences but one memorable one stands out: when we walked through a flooded place with water above the waist for 8 kilometers (5 miles) in search of the Fox’s Weaver (Ploceus spekeoides). It was tough but so worth it because it is Uganda’s only endemic species. I would not hesitate to do it again anytime.
Profession: Tour guide
Prossy’s patch: Mpanga Forest, a generally flat natural forest reserve with over 300 species of birds
Best birding experience: We once went looking for the Green-breasted Pitta (Pitta reichenowi) at 6:00 am and did not hear it call. We then resorted to looking for other birds, but to our surprise the bird showed up at 11:00 am. It was the first recorded sighting for this bird at that time.
Image © Diego Calderón
Veronica’s patch: Lutembe Bay – this wetland of international importance provides a habitat for both savanna birds and waterbirds. Join the fun and watch waders and grassland birds from one location.
Favorite spot for birding: Kidepo Valley National Park – a rugged savanna with beautiful wildlife and birds coming in also from Sudan and Kenya. Look out for Buffalo Weavers (Bubalornis niger), African Crake (Crex egregia), White-crested Turaco (Tauraco leucolophus), Kori Bustards (Ardeotis kori), Buff-crested Bustards (Lophotis gindiana), White-bellied Bustards (Eupodotis senegalensis), Red-fronted Barbet (Tricholaema diademata), and Purple Grenadier (Uraeginthus ianthinogaster).
Best birding experience: Every time I see a bird or animal, this moment becomes extraordinary to me. I consider all of these to be the best moments of my life.
Image © Rick Bateman
© Rick Bateman
Founded in 2013, the club aims to increase the participation of Uganda’s women in nature guiding, so that they may benefit from the income generated through sustainable tourism. Among other aims, the members of Uganda Women Birders strive to:
mentor young women to become nature guides with a focus on birding,
teach young children about nature conservation,
enhance awareness about conservation, and
increase the public’s appreciation for nature.
Today, the club has more than 50 members and looks to build an international network of female professionals in the tourism industry, including women from Kenya and Rwanda.