The Story of Mburo

By on December 23, 2019

A very long time ago, before you and I were ever born, there were two brothers who lived side by side in a Valley. The two brothers, Kigarama and Mburo were very much alike but also strangely different. Kigarama was the older, wiser and very thoughtful one while Mburo was the younger more spontaneous yet extremely stubborn one.

One day, Kigarama had a dream. In this dream, he saw a flood that swept away both of the brothers and decimated everything in the valley. The morning after, he dashed to his brother’s hut and told him about the story, claiming it was a vision from the gods.

The Stubborn Mburo thought nothing of the warning and simply brushed it off. According to him, if the gods were interested in passing on a message, they would not do it to someone in their sleep. Kigarama on the other hand, decided to heed the message and move to nearby hills. In the vision he had seen a flood sweep away everything in the valley so he looked for a hill where he settled, hoping and praying that his brother would snap out of his stubbornness and join him. Mburo never moved a muscle.

And then one day, the much-feared flood actually came. The stubborn Mburo and all his belongings were drowned as Kigarama watched helplessly from the hills. The water that drowned Mburo eventually became modern day Lake Mburo and the hills near the Lake became modern day Kigarama Hills. According to the legend, there were five stubborn people who had been stubborn during the flood and they all drowned. Mburo, Kajuma, Kigambira, Kibikwa and Bwara were all stubborn men who refused to heed the advice to move. To this day, if you stood atop Kajuma – one of the Hills in the Mburo area, you can see the five lakes that surround the area; Mburo, Kajuma, Kigambira, Kibikwa and Bwara.

In the foreground, Lake Mburo. In the background, Kigarama Hills.

Very many years after the Lakes and Hills were formed, there were communities of people that started to live in the surrounding areas. These people were not fishermen as one would expect. They were Cattle Keepers who roamed the area in search of food and water for their cows. Because of the aggressive nature of most of these various neighbours, conflicts and wars started to emerge. Most of these conflicts centered around battle for Cows and grazing land. Communities continually wiped out each other and the few who remained decided to move from the land to find safer and less populated places to graze their cows. This was around the time a TseTse fly infestation attacked the area, driving people out in large numbers. Eventually, wildlife began to appear in the area, most of it having migrated form various areas in search of food, water and land for breeding.

A Water buck

Much later, in 1933 the area around Lake Mburo was designated as a controlled hunting area and then later upgraded to a proper game reserve in 1963. The people wholived in the land (Banynankore Bahima) were in constant conflict with the wildlife. In the 70s several animals, elephants and other wildlife were killed by the locals along with other carnivorous animals. The locals begrudgingly lived alongside the wildlife, quietly reducing the numbers of the animals up to 1983 when the area was upgraded to a National Park; Lake Mburo Nation Park. This idea was extremely unwelcome by the locals, most of whom were not properly compensated during the gazette.

An elderly male bufallo kicked out of the herd for its inability to fight for mating rights

As such, two years later, when the Government of the day collapsed, the bitter locals who had been stripped of their land began to re-occupy the park’s land, and in so-doing, drove the park staff out. A lot of park infrastructure was destroyed, wildlife killed and land re-occupied. Eventually in 1986, the Park underwent another gazette; but only less than half of it could be reclaimed as part of the National Park.

Today, Lake Mburo National Park is home to animals including the African Buffalo, African Leopard, Jackal, Hyena, Impala, Warthog, Common Eland, Zebra, Hippopotamus, Giraffes, Waterbuck, Monkeys, Porcupines, Bush Babies. Lake Mburo is home to well over 350 bird species, including several endangered ones and is part of the reason why Uganda is regarded a birder’s heaven – you will always find a bird that you have never seen anywhere else.

An Egyptian Geese Couple on their honeymoon on the shores of Lake Mburo

The Park, covering an area of 365 Square Kilometers is bordered on different sides by Kiruhura, Mbarara, Isingiro and Lyantonde Districts. Managed by UWA, the Park has been able to create a seamless relationship between humans and wildlife with very few instances of Wildlife conflict. UWA has been able to do this by ensuring that 20% of the Park proceeds are given to the locals and also by allowing the locals to pick firewood from certain parts of the Park on specific days. In addition, Sport Hunting was introduced with the condition that old game could be hunted if it strayed out of the Park and into people’s neighbourhoods but only by licensed Sport Hunters. The proceeds from the Sport Hunting are all given back to the community with the lucky land owner whose land the game is hunted receiving a chunk of the proceeds. For purposes of context, a Hippo Sport Hunter would have to pay $3000 and a Buffalo sport Hunter would have to pay $2000 to hunt the animal. In addition, UWA carries out regular sensitization of the locals to ensure that they are aware of the dangers of poaching, encroachment of Park Land and destabilization of the wildlife in the area.

Fees for Lake Mburo National Park activities 

Visiting Lake Mburo National Park is something that should be on Ugandan’s bucket list, not just because the place is awesome and mindblowing but because most of the people who visit this place are actually foreigners. From the look of things, people from far and wide seem to understand the awesomeness of the National Park while the people closer to home do not pay as much attention to it. One has got to take a moment to actually drink in the coolness of this place before they can think about visiting locations further from home.

“Travel Makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in this World” – Gustave Flaubert

a.k.a Beewol
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