Endangered Fox’s Weavers Spotted in Northeastern Uganda

This photo taken on Oct. 4, 2023 shows a Fox's Weaver perching on a tree branch at Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Nakapiripirit district of Uganda. PHOTO/XINHUA

In the remote reaches of northeastern Uganda, a remarkable sighting has stirred both excitement and concern among conservationists. The elusive Fox’s weaver, a globally recognized near-threatened bird species, was recently observed in the pristine environs of the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, located in the Nakapiripirit district.

This fortunate encounter took place during a study tour conducted by a group of dedicated conservationists, concluding just last week. Godfrey Tumwesigye, the executive chairperson of the Avian Conservation Uganda Society (ACUS), shared the news, emphasizing the unique opportunity for tourists to visit Uganda and witness this rare bird species.

Tumwesigye elaborated on their findings, saying, “We have explored various locations, especially those designated as important birding areas. However, this is the sole habitat where Fox’s weavers can be found in Uganda. During our visit, we had the privilege of sighting seven of these avian gems, including three pairs and a solitary individual.”

Suzan Akankunda, the director of ACUS, voiced concerns about the impending endangerment of Fox’s weavers due to habitat loss. The primary threat is posed by local communities encroaching on their natural habitat, primarily the Whistling Acacia trees. These trees are essential for the birds, but they are being utilized by the Nakapiripirit region’s residents for building livestock enclosures, known as kraals, and homesteads, commonly referred to as Manyattas.

To mitigate this threat, Tumwesigye revealed that ACUS is actively engaging with both the government and the local community to explore alternative construction materials and practices, thereby safeguarding the Whistling Acacia trees. Additionally, efforts are being made to educate and raise awareness among schoolchildren by establishing birding clubs in schools, teaching them about various bird species, their vital roles in the environment, and the importance of preserving their habitats.

Uganda boasts a rich avian diversity, with approximately 1,089 bird species recorded in its database. ACUS, a private conservation organization in Uganda, plays a pivotal role in conducting research and collecting crucial data on various bird species, contributing to their preservation and protection.

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