Makerere University Biological Field Station (MUBFS) is located at the edge of Kibale National Park in western Uganda, near the foothills of the famous Rwenzori Mountains National Park. The park measures 795 km2and consists of a variety of ecosystem and vegetation types including the mature, mid-altitude, moist semi-deciduous and evergreen forest (57%), colonizing forest (19%), grassland (15%), woodland (4%), lakes and wetlands (2%), and plantations of exotic trees (mainly C. lusitanica, Pinusspp. and Eucalyptus spp.)(1%).
Kibale was first gazetted a forest reserve in 1932 with a management objective of providing a sustained production of hardwood timber. Consequently trees over 1.52 m in girth were subject to a polycyclic harvesting cycle of 70 yearswhere it was recommended that harvesting opens the canopy by approximately 50%(Kingston, 1967). As can be imagined, this history of harvesting led to varying degrees of disturbance among forest sites and consequently variety in the biological diversity supported as indicated in our checklists. The forest, along with five other forests, received National Park status in 1993 and changed name from Kibale Forest Reserve to Kibale National Park. The park is surrounded by a multi-ethnic community with a rich heritage formed mostly as a result of long-term interaction with the forest resources and forest management regimes.
As such, MUBFS provides a unique environment for studies into nature and human-nature interactions. You are welcome to Kibale for research (short, medium, long term), field course, and cinematography among others. You can learn more about our facilities here
Makerere University Biological Field Station is committed to undertaking and providing opportunities for high quality, multi-disciplinary research and education in tropical ecosystems, with the underlying objective of contributing to the conservation and development needs of Kibale National Park and its surrounding ecological and human communities.
The objectives of Kibale Forest Project were Research, Conservation and Education. These are still upheld up to the present. As research progressed, it was found necessary to undertake some outreach activities. An outreach program was initiated to:
- teach conservation to the local communities through schools, workshops and other formal gatherings and;
- distribute tree seeds and seedlings to encourage people to grow their own trees.
On the conservation front, Kibale Forest Project helped the Forest Department in patrolling the forest and also lobbied government to elevate the conservation status of Kibale Forest from a Forest Reserve to Forest Park. Later on, in 1993, Kibale Forest Reserve attained a National Park status.
By the time Dr. Struhsaker handed over the management to Makerere University, the research site had become widely known for its research in spite of its rudimentary infrastructure at the time. From the late 1980s through 1990s, this fame attracted a lot of funding from international funding agencies especially, WCS, EEC now EU and USAID. Almost all the infrastructure we have today was put in place using these funds.
MUBFS has two main study sites- Kanyawara and Ngogo. Kanyawara houses the station’s main facilities. However, the MOU between Uganda Wildlife Authority and Makerere University allows MUBFS researchers to conduct research outside these two designated sites. As such, our research activities have expanded to Sebitooli in the northern part of Kibale National Park. Plans are under way to establish a permanent research camp there with the help of the French Government.
Uganda’s favorable climate, political stability and road network make MUBFS accessible all year round. Several major international flight carriers land at Entebbe International airport regularly. The country’s currency, the Uganda shilling is about 3,500 to the US Dollar. It is advisable for visitors to check with their local health authorities at least six weeks prior to travel to determine if any immunization is required.
MUBFS is located in Kibale National Park; it has two research sites. The main research site is located at Kanyawara and a smaller camp at Ngogo which is only a three to four hours’ walk from the Kanyawara. Both sites are easily accessible by road. The journey from Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, to MUBFS headquarters at Kanyawara via Mubende takes four to six hours. The total distance is about 300 km. An alternative road goes South through Masaka, Mbarara, Kasese (via Queen Elizabeth National Park) and Fort Portal; this route takes about eight (8) hours.
Currently, the facilities at Kanyawara can accommodate up to 85 researchers and trainees. MUBFS has two main centres; Kanyawara and Ngogo. Available services at Kanyawara include electricity, running water, laundry and limited transport. The field station maintains a grid of forest access trails covering a total of approximately 200 km at Kanyawara and Ngogo.
There is a well stocked library with books covering a wide range of topics in the fields of conservation, ecology, botany and zoology. Accommodation facilities at Kanyawara include two-bedroom houses, duplexes and dormitories. A kitchen and dining hall are also available. Catering services are available at a reasonable rate for groups of at least ten people; smaller groups can cook for themselves using MUBFS’ kitchen and utensils. A laboratory with rudimentary equipment is also available.
Accommodation at Ngogo has remained limited; there are only four houses that house up to three senior researchers and support staff. Graduate students, up to six, generally sleep in tents. It must however be emphasized that Ngogo is a great site for studying chimpanzees and other ecological studies. The chimpanzee community at Ngogo is comprised of over 180 individuals, the largest ever recorded in the wild.
Through Prof. Chapman, a funding was secured from National Geographic to construct a multipurpose structure for the herbarium/museum. The structure is located in a botanical garden. However, the herbarium/museum is not yet operational but plans are under way to procure equipment.
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