Near Entebbe – A Visit to Zika Forest – where the Zika Virus originated
Zika Forest -Home of the Ugandan Virus Research Institute – Great Place for Birding
Get ready for an insightful journey to Zika Forest, where the Zika Virus was first discovered by Scottish Virologist Alexander Hamilton in 1947. In Uganda, this forest was where the Zika Virus originated when a particular species of African mosquito-transmitted it. Unlike many regions in South America and North America, Uganda is free from the Zika Virus and its associated strains.
Zika Forest is not only historically significant but also serves as the home of the Uganda Virus Research Institute. This esteemed institution conducts critical research on insects and potential diseases they carry, contributing valuable insights to the field of virology. Furthermore, the forest attracts schoolchildren who marvel at its 24-acre expanse and the impressive 40-meter-tall research tower nestled within its midst.
Birders and tourists alike have recognized Zika Forest as a must-visit destination. Even former US President Jimmy Carter ventured here on a birding safari, highlighting the forest’s appeal to nature enthusiasts. Beyond the remarkable bird species within its boundaries, Zika Forest is also home to diverse wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for leopards, snakes, and a vibrant array of butterflies. The forest reverberates with the lively calls of red-tailed and colobus monkeys, adding to its vibrant atmosphere.
While Zika Forest spans just 24 acres, it faces threats from human activities. Deforestation poses a significant challenge, as does the clearing of the forest to make way for human settlements and gardens. Unfortunately, this issue is not unique to Zika Forest but affects protected forests and parks throughout Uganda.
Located near Entebbe, Zika Forest offers visitors a unique opportunity to witness a historically significant site where the Zika Virus was first discovered. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of this forest, adorned with mature trees, diverse birdlife, playful monkeys, and various other wildlife. It is where nature thrives, inviting you to appreciate its beauty and serenity.
As you explore the Zika Forest, please take a moment to reflect on its significance in virology, its ecological importance, and the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect this precious natural habitat.