The Elusive – Ancient Appearing Shoebill Stork of Uganda

Posted by on November 20, 2018

The Prehistoric looking Shoebill Stork of Uganda

Best Places where to spot the elusive Shoebill Stork in Uganda and where you can see them on your safari with us.


Uganda is the Best East African Country where you can see the Shoebill Stork while on a Safari.  Places such as Mabamba Swamp along Lake Victoria, Lugogo Swamp in Ziwa Rhino Reserve, the lower Nile in Murchison Falls Park and Lake Mburo are all places and parks where you can spot the most sought-after bird in East Africa – the Shoebill Stork.

Uganda does not have the most Shoebill Stork, but Uganda has safe, secure, easily accessible locations where visitors on a Safari can spot the Prehistoric Shoebill Stork.


Uganda is known for its Mountain Gorillas – Chimpanzees – Scenery and Wildlife and it is also home to one of the most sought-after bird in Africa– the elusive Shoebill Stork. A most amazing bird with prehistoric looks – its height of up to 150 centimeters (5 feet) and weighs up to 14 pounds – a most amazing bird found in the pearl of Africa – Uganda.

The Arabs used to call the Shoebill Stork –“Abu Maruk” meaning father of the shoe – one could call the Shoebill Stork a flying shoe because of his unique bill.

Amazingly this prehistoric looking bird can live for 50 some years – the shoebill storks are solitary creatures that form monogamous relationships during mating season which is between April and June.  They make a nest on the ground and usually lay two eggs and both parents share incubation duties for a month before the chicks are hatched and have to be fed for several months before they can forage for food on their own.

The Shoebill Stork of Uganda, a swamp specialist, survives on a diet of mainly of lungfish supplemented by frogs, puddle fish, even baby crocodiles, and water snakes all because of the sharp edges on their wide bill. They tend to be nocturnal and do not have webbed feet which gives them a stealth-like ability as they are on the hunt for lungfish.

 When in flight they have a wide wingspan, their heads and necks retracted, they seem sluggish on the ground but are graceful in the air and when attacking their prey they pull back their wings and approach their prey in a way demonstrating their strength.  Simply an amazing bird.


T here are about 1000 plus Shoebill Storks left in Uganda today and their greatest danger is development, sometimes they are hunted by fishermen as they are seen as a bad omen if seen before going out on the lake. Tourism once again can play a great role in their preservation as it is the case with mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.

Uganda is a birding paradise, it was Sir Fredrick Jackson, a former Governor of the Uganda protectorate and keen ornithologist who once described Uganda as a “hidden Eden….and a wonderland for birds”. The Pearl of Africa is the country that is best to see the Elusive – Ancient Appearing Shoebill Stork of Uganda.

There is no other area in all of Africa that can match a variety of bird species that Uganda has to offer including the flying shoe, the Shoebill Stork – one of the most sought-after birds in the world. Uganda known for gorillas, chimpanzees, tree climbing lions is also home to one of most fascinating birds, the elusive shoebill stork…


The Best Places where to see the Shoebill Stork on Safari in Uganda:

 Mabamba Swamp

Mabamba Swamp is considered the Best and most convenient location in Uganda where one can spot the Shoebill Stork in the Wild while on Safari in Uganda.

The Swamp is a part of Lake Victoria an is easible accessible from Entebbe or Kampala.  It can easily can be incorporated into a Safari that includes Lak Mburo National Park.

At  Mabamba Swamp you are taken by former fishermen, some of which used to see th Shoebill as a bad omen  when sighted while going fishing and they would attempt to kill the Shoebill.  Today they sing a different tune as they guide you through the vast swamp here A Shoebill Stork outing here will be from two three-hours long.  The early morning are best to venture through the swamp in a boat.

Mabamba Swamp – considered the Best for Shoebill Stork Sightings.


 Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary – Lugogo Swamp:

Ziwas Rhno Sanctuary on the way to Murchison Falls Park is not only a great place to see Rhinos up close, but one of dhe bes spots where to the see the Shoebill Stork on a boat outing on the swamp that is located here.    Shoebill Storks will not be the only bird that you will sight here, there will be other water birds besides plus mammals such as the elusive Sitatunga Antelope.

To get the most out of your Shoebill Swamp excursion at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary spend the night here at Amuka Lodge and have an early morning dawn start on Lugogo Swamp, daybreak is around 6:30 am.

This is the perfect addon to a time on Safari in Murchison Falls Park.

Ziwa Rhino Sanctuaries – Rhino Tracking on Foot plus Shoebill Stork Sightings


 Murchison Falls Park – Delta Area Boat Ride on the Nile:

Most Visitors take a boat ride up the falls, fewer take a ride downward on the Nile to the Delta Area where the Nile flows into Lake Albert.  This is and has been one of the best areas in Uganda for Shoebill Sightings while you are on a half0day excurion that takes in the the lower portion of the Nile.

This is a 4-hour boat safari in a comfortable motor-boat and the added plus that you ar not just on any River, but the River Nile.

The chances of seeing a shoebill stork on side of the River standing still looking for a fish to devour are quite high but you are in the wild and there is no guarantee, one can only go by past history and that is quite good.


 Semliki Wildlife Reserve – Lake Albert:

This is a great location for Birding, and it is most often birders who come to the Semliki area of Uganda.  Shoebill Sitings have a high probability rate here as you take a motor boat onto Lake Alber and find the swampy areas that the shoebill stork prefers.  Lungfish is one of their choice of fish and they are also found in the swampy areas of lakes and rivers.

Lake Albert provides the perfect setting for a Shoebill Stork outing and we love to arrange it prior to your arrival on your safari with us.

Lake Albert in the Semliki area offers much more than Shoebill Stork Sighting, however the probability of seeing shoebill storks is one of the main reasons that many visitors venture here on Safari.


T he above are not the only areas where you can spot and see the Shoebill Storks, they are the most convenient.  We will work with your safari itinerary to make sure that you do not miss the elusive, ancient appearing Shoebill Stork.


Enquire where to spot the Elusive -Ancient Appearing Shoebill Stork of Uganda