Research Students Ms Holly Oliver Akello and Mr. Joel Andrew Otenge Holding Texts Used in the Field(photo/NatureUganda)

Uncovering Surprising Reptile and Amphibian Species in Uganda

NatureUganda continues to uncover surprising reptile and amphibian species during surveys in remote parts of the country.  To do so, the project has attracted the talent of several young researchers from universities across the country. Local communities are also contributing local knowledge (aka Citizen Science) on the distribution and abundance of some species in their local areas that researchers may not see. Together with the staff of NatureUganda and WhatsApp groups, some 10 MSc research students, 20 graduate assistants and village assistants total to over 243 participants in this project. It is hoped that the data generated from this project will be used in research, conservation planning, management and monitoring by different stakeholders in the country. The surveys are adding value to the biodiversity of Uganda in terms of the number of species records and checklists of amphibian and reptile species in the country’s diverse habitats and ecosystems. The project hopes to detect new species once generated data is collected and analyzed. The Principal Investigator of this Project is Dr. Mathias Behangana – a convener for the Herps Working Group at NatureUganda — and who since 1992 has worked to put the herpetofauna of Uganda on the map.

Rare Species: Vine Snake – Thelotornis kirtlandii

Ms Holly Oliver Akello has long been fascinated by reptiles and has studied several rare species such as: the Vine Snake – Thelotornis kirtlandii near Mabamba wetlands, Entebbe and the Royal Python – Python regius seen near Buliisa.   Currently finishing her degree in Kampala International University, Holly is convinced that the smaller, often overlooked taxa are some of the most important species that sustain critical ecosystems.

Mr. Joel Andrew Otenge is a student at Islamic University in Mbale (IUIU) and an enthusiastic collaborator with NatureUganda’s herpetological surveys.  He is excited to know that stable populations of amphibians also serve to control mosquitoes and thus help control malaria in rural areas.  This is just one example of how species contribute to sustain human health as well as environmental balance.

Read more about the NatureUganda project Training a Cohort of Herpetologists to Increase Baseline Data Knowledge in Uganda – to Build Capacity for Herpetology Surveys in Key Ecosystems of East Africa here.