Ajai Wildlife Reserve in Uganda

ZAjai Wildlife Reserve in Uganda

Ajai wildlife reserve in Uganda : is another fascinating tourist destination nestled in  north-eastern Uganda between districts of Arua, Nebbi, Moyo and Adjumani on the western banks of the mighty Albert Nile between Pakwach and Nimule. The reserve is situated in an area with higher elevation but is relatively small approximately (166 sq km) and is managed by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. The reserve derived its name from a powerful local chief called Ajai who led in the 1930s ,was first established in 1962 and later officially established as Ajai wildlife reserve in 1965.  Ajai wildlife reserve comprises of a prominent island that is encompassed by savannah and seasonal swamps that are poured into by the rivers Acha and Ala.

During the rainy seasons, the swamp gets fully flooded thus cutting off the island from the outside world and this explains why animals continue to survive within the island close to a growing human population. Ajai wildlife reserve generally  consists of woodlands, savannah plains, swamps and has got a great Tourism potential hosting or harboring a diversity of wildlife such as leopards, bushbucks, black and white colobus, zebras, foxes, common duikers, Dik dik, olive baboons, oribi, vervet monkeys, Uganda Kobs, waterbucks, civets, buffaloes, sitatungas antelopes, hippopotamus to mention but a few. The reserve also hosts a number of reptiles such as pythons, green snakes, monitor lizards, puff adders, black cobras and many more. Additionally the swamps and woodlands combine to perfectly harbor  a variety of bird species including African fish eagles, Grey crowned cranes, weaver birds, giant kingfishers, Marabou stocks, African jacanas, pied kingfishers and much more.


Historically, till the early 1970s, Uganda was a popular tourist destination due to her spectacular sceneries alongside the higher concentration and diversity of wildlife including both the black and white rhinos. Initially, Ajai wildlife reserve was managed by a powerful local chief named “Ajai” who led in the 1930 hence the reserve deriving its name from him until 1980. The Reserve was one of the few places where you could sight the endangered white rhinos in Uganda and now are extinct within the wildlife reserve and this draws an explanation as to why it was once called the Ajai Rhino Sanctuary. During that time, it harbored over 60 white Rhinos out of the 80 Uganda was hosting. When the local community members started hunting these rhinos, the World Wildlife Fund facilitated an Anti-poaching initiative that was conducted throughout the reserve in 1962. Though it didn’t stop the poachers from hunting these mammals, not until they became extinct and later the local people started using the wildlife reserve land for their own personal activities. After a period of six years, the Uganda Wildlife Authority came in and privatized some of the management and operations of Ajai Wildlife Reserve with peculiar consideration given to a private hunting and photographic tour operator, the Uganda Wildlife Safaris Limited. Today Uganda’s rhinos are extinct and very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves country.

Activities in Ajai reserves

Game drives

In Ajai game reserve, game viewing can be enjoyed while on a game drive in several different game drive areas, driving through scaling landscapes where you will have great chances of seeing the lions in wait for prey as they go to drink. Here  you will have a big opportunity to have a glimpse at different animals like the sitatunga antelopes, leopards, olive baboons, common duikers, hyenas, warthogs, Kobs, waterbucks, bush bucks, hartebeests and so much more.


Game drives offer an opportunity for one to come across a variety of distinct birdlife including savannah forest birds and water birds. The commonest species found in the plains include the Marabou stork, Secretary birds, Abyssinian ground hornbills, Open-billed storks, Black-billed Bustards, Widow birds and many more. Near swamps and other water bodies where there are more thickets and woodlands, the commonest bird varieties include the Giant kingfishers, shrikes, Malachite Kingfishers, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters, francolins, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, herons, Hamerkop, African fish eagles, weavers, Crombecs, Hornbills, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Geese, Stilts, Warblers, plovers, Flycatchers to mention but a few.

How to get there

This Uganda Safari destination can be accessed by both Air and road transport. Through road transport, it is approximately  6-7 hours’ drive from Kampala the starting point of most and many safaris, to Arua where the wildlife reserve is located and with air transport, scheduled and charter flights can be arranged to Arua airfield. You can fly from Entebbe to Gulu or Arua after which you can be transferred to the reserve for the day’s activities.

Are you planning to take a safari trip to North western Uganda, don’t miss out spotting on Ajai wildlife reserve.

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