The Elusive Shoe Bill stork
On our way to Murchison Falls National Park, we normally stop by the road side and search the swampy marshes on the right and side right after Luwero town. Every once in 9 times, we will see the elusive shoebill stork in its marshy dwellings. When seen, it is a sight to behold, as its prehistoric looks strike as much fear in us as they do in the frogs, baby crocodiles, lungfish and the rodents this giant of a bird eats. The shoebill, also known as the whale bird, can grow to four feet in height with a wingspan of seven feet. It has an oversized beak and exceedingly large eyes. The shoebill has a prehistoric dinosaur like look to match its scary nature. Shoebills have been known to live for up to 50 years.
The shoebill is often found in a still stance as it hunts with great patience. Shoebills can silently perch at the water’s edge for hours waiting for the right time to snap down on their favourite fish.However the shoebill can also be loud as it claps the mandibles of its bill together as a display, producing a loud, hollow sound. This is done during mating season to attract mates. Shoebills normally lay two eggs but only one hatchling will survive to fledge. The larger shoebill will normally fight and chase off the smaller hatchling from the nest. Shoebills can be seen across East and central Africa in Zambia, Tanzania, Sudan and Uganda. In Uganda, shoebills can be seen on the Nile delta in Murchison Falls national park, in the Mabamba swamp near Entebbe and in wetlands near Luweero. Shoebills are an endangered species and are listed on CITES.