Their numbers globally are said to be drastically reducing due to increased habitat loss. “there are an estimated 6,000 birds remaining". In Uganda they can be found in Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba Weltands in Mpigi, Rutembe Bay, Lake Opeta - Bisina in Katakwi and around the Kyoga basin
The shoebill occurs in extensive, dense freshwater marshes. Almost all wetlands that attract the species have undisturbed Cyperus papyrus and reed beds of Phragmites and Typha. Although their distribution largely seems to correspond with the distribution of papyrus. In Uganda the shoebill can be found in Murchison Falls National Park, Mabamba Weltands in Mpigi, Rutembe Bay, Lake Opeta - Bisina in Katakwi and around the Kyoga basin.
The breeding pair of shoebills vigorously defends a territory of 2 to 4 km2 (0.77 to 1.54 sq mi) from conspecifics. In the extreme north and south of the species' range, nesting starts right after the rains end. In more central regions of the range, it may nest near end of wet season in order to hatch around the beginning of the following wet season. Both parents engage in building the nest on floating platform, after clearing out an area of approximately 3 m (9.8 ft) across. The large, flattish nesting platform is often partially submerged in water and can be as much as 3 m (9.8 ft) deep. The nest itself is about 1 to 1.7 m (3.3 to 5.6 ft) wide. Both the nest and platform are made of aquatic vegetation.