Today I arrive at Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest in the southwest corner of Uganda for a couple days. This World Heritage Site is a dense rainforest still intact from the last ice age. On these Albertine Rift Valley ridges there are many gorges, streams and waterfalls, habitat to 90 mammal species, 100 fern species and 23 endemic forest bird species, including more than half of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas.
For the next 15 days NWNL will be investigating conservation and stewardship in the vulnerable White Nile River Basin. This month’s devastating mudslides in Uganda’s White Nile headwaters are said to be due to uncontrolled deforestation and settlement. The human impacts of these disasters range from no access to water, to water-related diseases, and conflicts over natural resource usage.
This morning I will begin NWNL’s focus on the impacts of disease, human settlement and infrastructure here at the source of the Nile. Watershed issues NWNL is studying here include: The headwaters face deforestation, dams and increasing settlement; pollution and invasive species threaten the livelihoods of 30 million lakeshore inhabitants; and increases in floods and droughts are greatly impacting this watershed.
I arrive today in Entebbe to begin documenting Uganda’s White Nile River Basin. I plan to spend the afternoon in Jinga, the source of the White Nile on Lake Victoria. The more westerly Albert Nile forms at a higher elevation from early trickles in the Rwenzori Mountains, known as the Mountains of the Moon. These mountains are rapidly losing their glaciers due to climate change which will likely produce a reduced flow to the Nile in upcoming years.
This will be our first trip to Uganda’s White Nile River Basin, although we have already conducted two expeditions to Ethiopia’s Blue Nile. One third of Africa’s populations reside in and depend on the natural resources of the Nile River Basin. In Uganda, I will photograph the two White Nile tributaries, the Victoria Nile and the Albert Nile, and investigate conservation of forest and wetland habitats and ecosystems. To do this I will visit the following National Parks: Lake Mburu, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Lake Elizabeth, Kibale Forest, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley.