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Monday, 22 March 2010

Untouched Uganda: Lake Opeta's People & Wildlife - Page 3

Written by Sam D'Cruz
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In the Northeastern region of Uganda lies a large, remote, seldom visited lake: Lake Opeta. The lake was designated a national conservation area in 2006 due to its numerous bird species— including the globally endangered shoebill (balaeniceps rex).

 

The journey across was painfully slow for another 2 hours and the heavy monsoon rains had started. As we arrived soaking wet, the rain started to clear and low and behold, the head of a shoebill was seen amongst the tall grasses. We had found it! Everyone excitedly made their comments as none of our party had seen this bird before.

 

Untouched Uganda: Lake Opeta's People & Wildlife, travel Lake Opeta, travel Uganda, Northeastern region of Uganda, Lake Opeta, numerous bird species, endangered shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, Okutot Island, Teso people, Karamojong Tribes, Sam D'CruzA very odd looking character, the shoebill stands at above waist height and has a large un-proportionate beak. It stands silently for long periods of time and then dives forwards opening its large mouth to clamp down on the fish it has spotted. I personally think the bird looks like something from a prehistoric period, unlike the rest of the wildlife. I was fortunate enough to capture some great shots and the day was a complete success; it was definately worth lugging my heavy telephoto lens around all day.

 

I felt a sense of relief, as the shoebill was the main reason Lake Opeta has been designated a conservation site and it was of huge importance that I capture professional shots of the bird in order to attract visitors..

 

 

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Untouched Uganda: Lake Opeta's People & Wildlife, travel Lake Opeta, travel Uganda, Northeastern region of Uganda, Lake Opeta, numerous bird species, endangered shoebill, Balaeniceps rex, Okutot Island, Teso people, Karamojong Tribes, Sam D'CruzVery few foreigners have visited these areas, so it was a privilege to see the authentic culture of these friendly fishermen which has not been modernized at all. They enjoy a completely sustainable existence.

 

The introduction of ecotourism will certainly see an influx of money, primarily giving the fishermen a little bit of extra cash to take tourists on their boats. Even with the proposal of improving the infrastructure —such as adding toilets at the landing site, a small lodge, and offering options to stay with the fishermen in their island homes, my opinion is that these men will be continuing their thriving fishing business for many years to come.

 

Giving visitors the chance to see local culture’s and learning from them is important,; however, the impact needs to be minimal and controlled. Protection of this unique area and its inhabitants must be the priority.

 

Lake Opeta is an untouched corner of Africa I would highly recommend to any traveler wanting to get away from the beaten track.

©Sam D'Cruz
Photographer / Writer
www.samdcruzphotography.com

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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