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Lake Bunyonyi



 
Max. length 25 km
Max. width 7 km
Max. depth 44 - 900 m ?
Surface elevation 1,962 m

 

Lake BunyonyiLake Bunyonyi is a body of water seven kilometres west from Kabale Town, southwestern Uganda. It is 25 km long and 7 km wide, covering an area of 61 square kilometres. The lake's altitude is 1,950 m, and it is surrounded by hills that are 2,200 to 2,478 m high and intensely cultivated.

Its 29 islands are concentrated in the central part. These islands have few settlements, they are mostly used for tourist facilities and for a secondary and a primary school.

The data on the lake's maximum depth varies, from 44 m to 900 m in parts. If the latter is true, Lake Bunyonyi is the second deepest lake in Africa. The temperature on the surface rises to 25 degrees Celsius. In the beginning of the 20th century, fish were introduced to the lake and in the 1930s fishing became profitable. Unfortunately in the 1960s the fish died massively as a result of a violent shallow mixing, likely caused by wind. Subsistence fishing prevailed in the lake, people mostly caught clarias species - the lake's depth and stratification makes it difficult for the breeding of the common Ugandan species Nile Perch and Tilapia. Nevertheless, 300,000 Nile Tilapias and Clarias fish were released in the lake at the end of 2002. Also present in the lake are Mud fish, Cray fish and Mirrowcarp - and plenty of their predators, otters.

Over 200 bird species have been recorded here. "Bunyonyi" actually means "the place of many little birds"

Lake Bunyonyi is one of the few African lakes completely safe for swimming - there is no bilharzia.ironically, very few of the locals have learnt to swim, and death from drowningis a real threat to local fishermen.

The lake's main centre is Bufuka Village. The area's inhabitants are from the Bakiga and the Batwa tribes.

There are four main islands...

Punishment Island

Punishment IslandThe Bakiga used to leave unmarried pregnant girls on this small island with a tree - to die of hunger or while trying to swim to the mainland (swimming skills were rare). This was to educate the rest, to show them not to do the same. A man without cows to pay the bridewealth could go to the island and pick up the girl. The practice was abandoned in the first half of the 20th century. However, it is still possible to find some elderly women who were picked up from punishment island.

 


Bushara Island

Bushara IslandThis island is the home of Lake Bunyonyi Development Company, an organisation with strong links to Church of Uganda, the main church of the lake area. They use tourism to generate funds for several development projects around Bunyonyi. The island has many luxury tents, chalets, and also campsites for tourists to stay on. It is also possible to rent out wooden canoes with a view to paddling to one of the other islands.

The striking feature of the island is its forest, a demonstration of the most appealing attribute of the eucalyptus tree: an exceptionally fast growth rate. The hills around Bunyonyi used to feature many forests but overpopulation led to them being cut down to create land for agriculture needs. Eucalypti have been imported to improve the situation. But eucalyptus plants may also have a negative effect: they can soak p everything useful in the soil, leaving it more or less barren.

Watch the Bushara Island Video

 

Bwama and Njuyeera (Sharp's Island)

Sharp's IslandIn 1921, an English missionary called Dr Leonard Sharp came to this part of Uganda and in 1931 established a leprosy treatment centre on the then uninhabited Bwama island. A church, patient quarters (model villages) and a medical facility were built, while Sharp settled on Njuyeera Island (probably meaning 'white cottage', after the similarity of the doctor's small white house to Sharp's father's house in Shanklin, Isle of White, UK, now The White House Hotel). The rationale of the leprosy colony was that of 'voluntary segregation', where the provision of a happy community to live in would attract leprosy sufferers, so removing them from the communities where they might infect others.

The buildings of the hospital are now used by a boarding secondary school which attracts students from the entire region. There is also a primary school but no village on the island.

 

Bucuranuka = Upside Down

The legend says that this island killed many people. About twenty were once brewing local sorghum beer there. An old woman was passing by and she said: "Can you give me some local beer?" They wrongly though that she was a beggar they knew. They refused her: "Get lost, beggar! Get lost!!!" The old woman asked: "So you will not even give me a sip? Can I at least get somebody to take me to the mainland?" They answered: "Yes, because we are fed up with you!" They chose a young guy to take her over. When they reached the shore and the guy was just beginning to return, the island turned upside down. All died, only a chicken flew away and survived.

 

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