Lake Kyoga sometimes spelled as ‘Kioga’ is another of the Ugandan lakes and is right in the centre of the country.
It is quite large but a shallow lake (between 4 to 6 metres deep) with its shores extensively swampy wetlands with papyrus cover. Continuous growth of water lilies is common especially in areas less than 3 meters deep.
Quite often you will find vast areas of the shoreline covered in papyrus and swamp forming belts of several miles between land and open water – and you know what? Such areas are good habitat for crocs – Yes! Crocodiles. You could easily miss seeing them as they sometimes also hover along with the floating papyrus islands.
Lake Kyoga covers an area of about 660 sq miles with its main source – the Victoria Nile which flows in from Lake Victoria and out on its way to Lake Albert. It’s therefore fair to say that the mighty Nile flows through this lake.
Lake Kyoga has got a good collection of fish that is quite similar to that of lake Victoria (46 species). Tilapia is the common specie with Nile perch only introduced in the 1950s and a few other defenseless species.
The areas around the lake are predominantly for subsistence farming and fishing remains the main activity here. The papyrus is a good resource that is extensively used to make mats, roof thatch, fishing floats and rafts. Primitive methods of fishing are still practiced here; methods like the long line fishing and the inshore weed fishing. The fishing gear is quite primordial as well.
And because fishing is the main activity here, such is the pressure that the surrounding communities put on the quantity levels of the fish in the lake. Cases of using crude methods to catch even the young fish has been sited which prompted government to stop all fishing activity in 2010 – at least for sometime to allow the fish to grow.
Common with Lake Kyoga is the rising water levels especially after heavy rainy seasons – the very memorable being; the excessive El Nino rains in 1997/98 that caused a drastic raise in the water levels that forced massive islands of papyrus to dislodge on the lake and extensively blocking the outlet into Victoria Nile on its way to Lake Albert.
The resulting effect was the over flooding that displaced the surrounding communities causing mayhem and socioeconomic damage. Strangely when the water subsides, the communities return to these places for cultivation. Such is the danger that could strike again. Don’t be fooled, don’t you get any where close and about the crocs, have your eyes wide open.
This lake has such wonderful scenery; the greenery and the surrounding landscape that you will want to take away with your camera and the chance to see wild crocodiles – not in the zoo this time.