The Uganda Cranes will today Saturday at 5:30pm play against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the 32nd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations at Cairo International Stadium, Egypt.
The biennial international men’s football championship of Africa is organized by the Confederation of African Football. This will the seventh time the national team is playing at AFCON finals since 1962, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1978, 2007 and now 2019.
Unlike in the past qualifications, this time round the team had a comfortable run to reach this stage as it did not lose a match or concede a goal in five matches before a defeat in Tanzania; when they had already qualified for the final round.
Uganda stands in Group A with the host and record tournament winners Egypt, two time AFCON winner DRC and Zimbabwe.
However, besides being part of the tournament, there’s a more interesting part of Uganda Cranes as far as the country’s tourism is concerned.
The team’s presence in Africa’s prestigious men’s football tourney is not only improving Uganda’s ranking in the world of the game but will also boost the country’s tourism industry. Uganda is naturally endowed with a variety of tourism resources including stunning landscapes, beauty water bodies, unique cultures, a variety of flora and fauna and is the source of the second longest river in the world– the Nile.
For starters, the national team derived its name Uganda Cranes from the ‘Crested Crane’, a bird of national significance to Uganda, occupying a prime position on the country’s national flag and coat of arms. The Crested Crane has been Uganda’s symbol for nearly 100 years which means you cannot simply kick out Uganda Cranes team from the country’s rich history.
The Crane is definitely an object of great beauty. It is a tall bird standing well over three feet, on long-slender black legs. Its neck is almost as long as its legs and towards the base, pointed pearl-grey feathers are elongated to form an ornamental fringe.
The tail feathers, comparatively short, are the colour of dried straw. When at rest, the Crowned Crane seems to be enveloped in a cape of exquisite delicacy with its multi-coloured head where the three colours of the Uganda’s Flag (Black, Yellow, and Red) seem to be represented. The conspicuous velvety black forehead, yellowish crest and the vivid bright red wattles, make the Crested Crane an elegant creature, befitting its emblematic role.
On top of that the Crested Crane is among the attractions one is sure to find in a number of tourism destinations in Uganda.
The bird generally inhabits dry, open areas but nest in wet areas lie wetland marshes, lakes and river margins, damp fields and in cultivated planes. The Crested Crane can be seen in the open Savannah plains of Murchison Falls National Park and some other places in the country.
The Crested Crane’s presence in Uganda is among the reasons why the Pearl of Africa is ranked among the best bird-watching destinations in Africa’
Meanwhile, Uganda and its tournament competitor DRC share a common tourist product;-the Mountain Gorilla, which Uganda is statistically more endowed with. Over 54 per cent of the mountain Gorillas call her home.
According to congobasin.org, there are fewer than 1,000 mountain gorillas left in world. They live exclusively in Uganda, DRC and Rwanda in two separate subpopulations that include the Virunga subpopulation ranging across the Virunga Massif, which is a 440km² network of protected areas across the borders of Rwanda (Volcanoes National Park), Uganda (Mgahinga National Park) and the DRC (Virunga National Park) as well as the Bwindi subpopulation mainly restricted to the 330km² Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda.
Uganda hosts about 500 mountain gorillas which is half of the world’s remaining number of these endangered species. There are 17 Gorilla groups to trek with 15 in Bwindi and two in Mgahinga National Park.
Gorillas display uncanny human characteristics. The close-knit family groups are headed by a silverback – a mature male – who selects places for the group to eat and sleep, and has many privileges, including the right to feed first. This privilege pays off for the rest of the family, as if the group is threatened, the silverback – weighing up to 120kg (260lbs) – will defend them to the death, if necessary.
Generally though, the gorilla is a gentle species. They are considered to be highly intelligent, have been observed using tools like other great apes, and communicate using a variety of vocal sounds.
On the other hand, Uganda also shares Africa’s longest and world’s longest river in the world- the Nile with Egypt.
Its source starts right from Jinja Uganda, some people may be wondering how the name Nile come about. It’s a famous Greek word simply meaning valley. The river starts from the Northeastern part of Africa. It flows from the surrounding areas close to the equator to the outrageous Safari desert and up to the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The river is about 6696km long and pours its water to over nine countries although it’s more centered to Uganda as well as Egypt.
The Nile has contributed a lot to the modernization of the two countries. Its history has been the major source as why international tourists visit Uganda.
Up along the Nile’s course is Lake Kyoga which also feeds the river with fresh water. The course then leads you to the great Murchison Falls National Park comprising of hippos, crocodiles, magnificent bird life and chimpanzees.