Local communities in the Semliki forest area are Bakonjo and Bamba found in the valley and mountain slopes, Batuku in the Rift Valley floor and Batwa peoples in the forest.
The Semliki River is home of many animals with eight species of primate, 435 birds and 374 butterfly and 336 tree species (30% of East Africa). The most popular attraction in Semliki forest national Park is the cluster of hot springs.
24 trees species are restricted to Semliki forest national Park like Isolana congolana, Nesogordonia kabingaensis, Ejacis guineesis, Cordia millenii and Lovoa surymertonii. 63 species of mammals live here 9 of which are diurnal forest primates like chimpanzees, blue monkeys, vervet monkeys and olive baboons while nocturnal primates include pottos and galagos. Buffaloes, blue duikers, pigmy antelopes, beecroft’s flying squirrel and many species of bat are also found within the park. 11 animal species are found in Semliki forest national Park only.
34% of Uganda’s total birds are found here. 35 species are found in Semliki National Park only and 12 are very rare in East Africa but easy to be observed here. This long list includes 4 Hornbill species (White Crested, Red Dwarf, Black Dwarf and Wattled Casque), Red Rumped Tinker Bird, Palm Greenbul and lyre tailed honey guide. 7 “new” bird species were recorded only in the 1990s. Of the 374 species of recorded butterflies 46 are forest swallowtails and charaxes. This incredible variety is attributed to the presence of varied habitats, forest swamps, grassland, bush land and an extensive system of hot springs, warm swamps and savannah woodland.
Guided Nature Walks
A series of trails has been developed in the forest to provide access for birders. Not to be missed the Sempaya hot springs trail that leads to two hot springs situated in a tract of hot mineral encrusted swamp land where visitors see a two meters jet of hot water at 130° C. and a pool
of 12 m of diameter of oozing boiling water at 106° C.
Another interesting trail for birdwatching is a 15 km through forest fringed oxbow lakes. Resident birds include: spot breasted ibis, Nkulengu rail, black throated coucal, Maxwell’s black weaver and many more. Fishing is permitted.