This can only be done in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda’s most visited and second-largest national park. In a single day, you have an opportunity to learn about the life of the king of the wild – lion. Queen Elizabeth National Park, established in 1952 is home to approximately 600 bird species, 95 animal species, gorges, savanna grassland, forest, crater lakes and blanketed by snowcapped Mount. Rwenzori in the background. The park’s Ishasha region boasts the country’s highest number of lions, including the uncommon tree-climbing lions. A lion tracking exercise is an exciting activity, different from the normal game drive and limited to a given number of people and hours. It is done under the supervision of the researchers from Uganda carnivore project.
Dr. Ludwig Siefert, a professor from Makerere University who directed animal research and conservation, founded Uganda Carnivore Project in the 1990s. In Queen Elizabeth National Park and other conservation areas across the country, he taught other scientists how to recognize different predators. These teams of researchers assist visitors in tracking the lions in a safe and timely manner. There’s a 99 percent probability of seeing the lions, learning about their distinctive mannerisms and getting some of the best images you’ll ever see in the wild. Other predators studied by the researchers include hyenas and lions.
Visitors track a pride or single lion while in the safari vehicle, to learn about the unique behaviors, feeding and habitat. Lions feed on only flesh (prey such as the antelopes and gazelles), have a lifespan of about 15 years and are social mammals.
A tracker is used to locate the pride. Researchers put a radio collar on the neck of one of the lionesses and then during the search use a GPS to monitor their whereabouts. Once you reach where they are, the system signals with a sound. A pride is comprised of the lionesses, alpha male and cubs. These move a lot in search of prey and water, but the radio call is always well fitted to ensure comfort and flexible movement. As the research progresses, the ranger explains about the lions and as well as highlighting their unique habitat and characteristics. Feel free to gather some samples if requested.
Cost of Lion Tracking.
Lion tracking permit costs $100 for non-foreign residents, $100 for foreign residents and 100,000 Uganda shillings for East African nationals, including Ugandans. The fee excludes park entrance charges and can be paid directly at Mweya Information Centre, or to the tour operator organizing the safari. 10% of the fees is channeled to Uganda Carnivore project; a research body monitoring and handling the lions. A portion of this same booking fee is always given to the local community to help in the different projects and the well-being. It is advisable to book for this adventure at least three months in advance for proper arrangement and planning.
Best time to do lion tracking.
Lion trekking is done in three sessions; the morning session that begins at sunrise; the afternoon session, and the night session, which offers lots of sights and sounds of the nocturnal birds, and animals. June to September and December are the most ideal months to do lion tracking, because of fewer or no rains, clear wilderness and ease of having a drive.
However, budget travelers can decide to travel in March to May or October to November despite the rains to enjoy discounts on accommodation and other services. The good thing is that the tracking sessions last for about 2-3 hours, with great chance of encountering other mammals such as leopards, hyenas and cape buffaloes among others.
What to carry?
In the pool of things to carry for your safari, include these; Covid-19 negative test form, a professional camera for photography, binoculars to watch the lions for far, warm clothes, a hat to guard against the hit, yellow fever vaccine certificate and many more.
Lion tracking is much engaging, fun and more adventurous than game drive. It is done only at Queen Elizabeth National Park in the western part of Uganda. The other destinations to see lions include Kidepo Valley national park in the north-eastern part, Murchison Falls National Park in the northwestern region and Semuliki national park among others.