Mount Elgon Forest Reserve is located in eastern Uganda on the border with Kenya. The forest covers over covers 1,110 km2 and it is found on the slopes of Mount Elgon, a 4,321m high extinct volcano which geologists believe had its last eruption close to 10 million years ago.
Mount Elgon Forest Reserve is important water catchment. Its forests receive up to 3000mm of rain each year, which they store and release to support flora, fauna and more than a million Ugandans. Elgon’s water is equally important to many Kenyans, for Mount Elgon is bisected by the international boundary. It is an Important area for bird species conservation.
The forest support a rich variety of vegetation ranging from montane forest to high open moorland studded with the giant lobelia and groundsel plants. The vegetation varies with altitude. The mountain slopes are covered with olive Olea hochstetteri and Aningueria adolfi-friedericii wet montane forest.
Flora and fauna in Mount Elgon Forest Reserve
The ascent of Mount Elgon Forest Reserve passes through a series of roughly concentric vegetation zones. The lower slopes of the mountain are intensively farmed up to the park boundary. The first zone of natural vegetation is montane forest which runs from the park boundary up to 2500m.
This is followed by bamboo and low canopy forest (2400 – 3000m), then high montane heath (3000 – 3500m) which includes the giant heather (Phillipea excelsia) growing up to 6m tall. Above 3500m, cold temperatures and fierce winds force the heather to give way to open moorland and above 3800m, dramatic Aro alpine vegetation is found among tussock grasslands.
Mount Elgon Forest Reserve supports a variety of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, Defassa’s waterbuck, oribi, bushbuck, leopard and spotted hyena.
The mountain is home to 296 birds including 40 restricted range species like Jackson’s francolin, moustached green tinker bird, and black collared apalis.
The forest reserve provides dormitory accommodation and self contained wooded cottages at the Forest Exploration Centre at Katakwai. Meals are available on request. The forest reserve also has self catering guesthouse at Kapchorwa and Budadiri. A range of accommodation is found around the scenic sipi Falls and and in Mbale Town.
Encroachment on the Forest.
The was Encroachment on Mt Elgon forest reserve but the research shows that, has been halted on the orders of the Tourism, Trade and Industry minister.The minister directed all resident district commissioners, operating along the districts bordering Mt Elgon forest reserve, to apprehend persons that are forcefully destroying the forest and uprooting the boundary pillars.