From Entebbe I took the boat to the Mabamba Bay Swamp to find the shoebill bird. In order to enter the Mabamba Bay Swamp I had to transfer to a smaller boat. I was lucky enough to find 1 shoebill bird. Shoebills are mostly sedentary and can remain still as a statue for hours. Their patience pays off when it’s time to feed, allowing them to ambush unsuspecting prey who likely had no idea the motionless bird was lurking in the area. I watched this shoebill bird for 2 hours but besides blinking his eyes, he didn’t move at all.
The name shoebill comes from the shape of their bill, which looks like a Dutch clog shoe.
Mabamba Swamp is rich with lungfish which is the favorite food for the Shoebill. However the lungfish is also one of the most sought after fish by the local fishermen. So the fishermen hunted the Shoebills and killed them, leading to a decline in the numbers and almost rendered them extinct in the wetland. Designating the wetland a Ramsar site in 2006 provided some protection to the Shoebill. The fishermen now protect the Shoebill, so that when they set out to fish and see a Shoebill they do not move too close not to disturb it. There is about 12 Shoebills said to be resident in Mabamba wetland.
The Shoebill can be found in freshwater swamps in central and eastern African countries. The shoebill is classified as Vulnerable, meaning the species is at high risk of becoming extinct. Estimates suggest there are only between 3,300 and 5,300 mature individuals left in the wild, and populations are on the decline.