Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex)
Mabamba Bay Wetland System, Uganda. Status: Vulnerable.
The Shoebill was another one of our target species in Uganda. It is a most bizarre-looking bird, and lives in permanent and undisturbed papyrus swamps (where it feeds almost exclusively on lungfish), so habitat destruction is a serious threat to the survival of this species. It is believed to be related to storks, but has also been linked to pelicans and herons - however it represents the sole member of the family Balaenicipitidae.
We were fortunate to see 3 of these birds at the Mabamba Bay Wetlands, which is a Ramsar site, and located south of Kampala and north-west of Entebbe (near Lake Victoria). To communicate, a pair will signal to each other with a loud clap of the shoe-shaped bill.
For more information on the Shoebill see the IUCN Redlist entry here: www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/144759/0