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What are Papyrus Wetlands?

The Papyrus Wetlands are dominated by Cyperus papyrus stands that stretch along the shores of Lake Victoria. Other conspicuous plants include Phragmites spp. (reeds) and the floating Vossia cuspidata.

As well as sheltering many rare fishes, the swamps are home to birds species that only live in the Lake Victoria basin papyrus (they are 'papyrus endimics').

These include the Papyrus Gonolek (globally Near Threatened), Papyrus Yellow Warbler (globally Vulnerable), Papyrus Canary, White-winged Warbler, Carruthers's Cisticola, Red-Chested Sunbird, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and Papyrus Canary.

The swamps also host a rare antelope species, the Sitatunga, which is found only in wetlands.

The Lake Victoria Papyrus Wetlands have many Values ...

The papyrus swamps provide vital ecological services to the lake and the people living around it. The swamps are:

  • Breeding grounds for most of the fish that swim the waters of Lake Victoria.
  • Effective water filters for the lake, reducing the concentration of harmful nutrients and chemicals.
  • A sustainable source of swamp products.
  • A tourist attraction within the Lake region creating job opportunities for the local people.

What to see in Lake Victoria's Papyrus wetlands


Papyrus Canary
Papyrus Canary (A papyrus endemic)

Globally threatened or near-threatened: Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Papyrus Gonolek and Great Snipe

Regionally-threatened: Great Egret and Baillon's Crake

Lake Victoria Biome species: Black-lored Babbler, White-winged Warbler, Papyrus Yellow Warbler, Carrutherras's Cisticola, Papyrus Gonolek, Red-Chested Sunbird, Northern Brown-throated Weaver and Papyrus Canary

Many other wetland birds...



Rare: Haplochromine species, Lake Victoria cichlids like Oreochromis esculentus

Common: Labeo victorianus, Synonditis victoriae, S. afrofischeri, Mormyrus spp. and Barbus spp.

Other Animals... African Python (Python sebae), Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei), Hippopotamus, Vervet Monkeys

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