White Nile River Basin Expedition – Uganda

Welcome to #1 in a series of blogs written by Alison Jones before her departure to Uganda and Kenya as NWNL’s lead photographer.

Map of Uganda

Date: Tuesday, 23 March/Entry 1
Reporter: Alison M. Jones

This is NWNL’s 11th expedition to document its 6 case-study watersheds in Africa and North America. It will be our first trip to Uganda’s White Nile Basin, although we have already conducted two expeditions to Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River Basin. The Nile River Basin, one of NWNL’s six case-study watersheds, is very important in that 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.

After two weeks in Uganda, NWNL will return to Kenya’s Mara River Basin to document it in the rainy season, after having spent a month in that watershed last fall at the end of a three-year drought. I will be based in the Mara Conservancy. I have documented this area since 1985 and support this community-based model of conservation management since its launch in 2000. I will investigate the current status of implementation of its new Ten Year Management Plan for the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

The difficulties of blogging from the field while in Africa have led me to write point-to-point descriptions of our itinerary before departing. On return to New York, I will post actual experiences, so keep following this blog. It will be a fascinating journey. Meanwhile, if I have the ability to post from the field it will follow the prepared text in italics.

From the field: I left NYC three hours late on Monday March 22 due to a driving rain storm and arrived in Nairobi the next day in a pelting thunderstorm. After fog and a wet windshield caused me to miss the road to James Robertson’s – my Nairobi base for the next two days before flying to Uganda – I arrived to the chirp of frogs and the guardian gazes of three Rothschild giraffes.

The next two days I will have meetings here in Nairobi that will update me on the conditions In Kenya’s Mara River Basin. Our 1-month 2009 expedition in the Mara watershed ended October 15 – the day the rains broke a destructive 3-year drought. They were greatly welcome. Now the more fierce El Niño March/April rains are pounding Kenya, displacing perhaps more people than the drought and expected to last through May. After a quick bowl of tomato soup, I am off to bed. La la salama – Good night!

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