THE receding water level of Lake Victoria has destroyed part of Lutembe Bay, threatening two million migratory birds from Europe that roost there during winter.
This has attracted concern from conservationists.
Achilles Byaruhanga, the head of the BirdLife partner, Nature Uganda, said the water has retreated, putting three-square kilometres out of the 8 square meters of the bay at risk of drying up.
The bay, which is located between Kampala and Entebbe, is one of the most important bird areas with increasing potential to attract tourists.
“We did not get as many birds as we have always hosted at the bay,’’ said Byaruhanga, adding that this was because the bay was being taken up by weeds.
He was speaking during an excursion of Lutembe Bay, globally renowned as roosting grounds for the white-winged black terns that escape the chilly winter overseas.
The excursion was part of the activities organised to commemorate the World migratory bird day at the bay.
Byaruhanga said the water hyacinth had drifted into the bay and that once it died, it provided organic manure to other colonising species of grass that grow around and take up the bay.
“Part of the bay has been reduced and has given way to the growing of different species of grass,’’ said Byaruhanga.
He said four flower farms surround the bay and Rosebud flower farm has been reclaiming the wetland while expanding into the bay which was causing silting.
Cornelis Klein, the Uganda National Development’ Programme resident representative, wondered whether the water was rising after a month-long rains, but the communities and conservationists said it was still far from recovering.
The migrating population of white-winged black terns come around Lake Victoria in August and return in April.
Klein said the bay is one of the sites being considered under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention to be listed as a wetland of global importance.
Global celebrations of the World migratory bird day took place in Kenya on Saturday and it was the first time for the international community to recognise it.
Makerere University students, members of the Uganda Birds Guides Club and Nature Uganda attended the activities at Lutembe and Kampala.
Uganda has more than 1,000 species of birds and Lutembe is one of the tourist destinations because of the rare and globally threatened shoebill and the two million black terns.
Over five million birds migrate to Uganda every year and roost around Lake Victoria and the swamps scattered across the country.