Rubondo National Park: Another idyllic morning on Rubondo Island, tucked in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria, the world´s second – largest lake, an island sea sprawling between Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. With ten smaller islands under its wing, Rubondo National Park protects precious fish breeding grounds. Tasty tilapia form the staple diet of the yellow – spotted otters that frolic in the island´s rocky caves, while rapacious Nile perch, some weighing more than 100kg, tempt recreational game fishermen seeking world record catches.
Rubondo is more than a water wonderland. Deserted sandy beaches nestle against a cloak or virgin forest, where dappled bushbuck move fleet yet silent through a maze of tamarinds, wild palms, and sycamore figs strung with a cage of trailing taproots. The shaggy – coated aquatic Sitatunga, elsewhere the most elusive of antelopes, is remarkable easily observed, not only in the papyrus swamps it normally inhabits, but also in the forest interior.
Birds are everywhere. Flocks of African grey parrots – released onto the island after they were confiscated from illegal exporters – screen in comic discord as they flap furiously between the trees. The azure brilliance of a malachite kingfisher perched low on the reeds competes with the glamorous, flowing tail of a paradise flycatcher as it flits through the lakeshores forest. Herons, storks and spoonbills proliferate in the swampy lake fringes, supplemented by thousands of Eurasian migrants during the northern winter. Scents of wild jasmine, 40 different orchids and a smorgasbord of sweet, indefinable smells emanate from the forest.
Ninety percent of the park is humid forest; the remainder ranges from open grassland to lakeside papyrus beds. Indigenous mammals such as Sitatunga, bushbuck, bushpig, hippo, vervet monkey, genet and Mangoose are found alongside introduced populations of chimpanzee, black – and – white Colobus, elephant and giraffe, all of which benefit from Rubondos` inaccessibility.