How Murchison Falls National Park came into existence.


Nfundize Helton an elder explains that before the park was gazetted by the colonial officials, it was occupied by people. He also explains that following the breakout of sleeping sickness between 1918-1924 killing more than 6,000 people, colonial officials ordered people living in three Isanzas of Bugungu and Kiryandongo to vacate from River Banks to avoid tsetse flies. In return, animals had over taken their ancestral land in 1924.

Helton also explains that Rubenda Kassim (RIP) started the struggle between natives of the area and wild animals, with the colonial government siding with animals. Helton further explains that in the struggle to occupy their ancestral land, Rubenda Kassim was one of the schools children who warmly welcomed the then Governor Cohen in 1955 at Katala Landing site on Lake Albert in Bugungu (Present Buliisa district).

Mr. Etano Godfrey the community conservation rager Masindi explains that before the park was gazetted by the government in 1926. It was called Bunyoro — Gulu game reserve. He explains that it was named so because it had covered some parts of Bunyoro and Gulu. He further explains that this took a space of 26 years, and since wild species had accumulated, in 1952 the government decided to upgrade it to the National Park.

When the then Queen of England sent Sir Samuel Baker and his wife in 1864 to discover the source of the Nile, they were the first Europeans who sighted it and named it Murchison after the then President of the Royal Geographical Society geologist Roderick Murchison.

When Iddi Amin ascended to power in the 1970’s, he renamed it Kabalega Falls after Omukama (King) Kabalega Chwa II of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom. Late on, when he was overthrown, it adopted its name Murchison. However, sometimes it’s also refered to as Kabalega Falls.

Currently, the park has 76 mammal species, 450 bird species, and a variety of tree species. The park also has other five game reserves which include: Bugungu wildlife reserve in Buliisa district, Kabwoya wildlife reserve in Hoima district, Karuma wildlife reserve in Kiryandongo district, Ajai wildlife reserve in Arua district and East Madi wildlife reserve in Adjumani district.

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