Wildlife in Uganda
The Big 5 & So Much More
Wildlife in Uganda
Uganda’s biodiversity and ecology are an eclectic and rare mix of both the East African savannah and the West African Jungle. Despite the fairly small size of the country, the sheer variety of natural habitats, each with their own peculiarity, is quite mind-blowing.
Western Uganda, has 2 Great Lakes; Lake Albert and Lake Edward and the much smaller Lake George, the snow-peaked Rwenzori Mountains and large swathes of lush equatorial rainforest; including Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Semiliki Forest and Kibale Forest, and expansive grasslands; in Queen Elizabeth Park, Murchison Falls Park and Lake Mburo Park.
Northeastern Uganda including Kidepo Valley Park is mostly a semi-arid wilderness, it is still a favoured habitat for many animals.
Probably the most sought-after of the Big 5, lions can be found in several parks but are best seen hunting antelope in Murchison Falls National Park, lazing on rocky outcrops in Kidepo Valley National Park or relaxing in fig trees in the southern Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. The Uganda Carnivore Program (UCP) in Queen Elizabeth Park devotes its work to research and conservation of Uganda’s large carnivores.
Leopards are notoriously elusive but can be found in most of Uganda’s parks. They are mostly nocturnal, so they are best seen on night game drives in the parks where the option is available, like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park. Lake Mburo Park has the highest concentration of Leopards in Uganda.
Large herds of cape buffalo are ever-present in the National Parks of Uganda. They are mostly found in, Lake Mburo National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo National Park. Buffalos are dangerous and do have a reputation for being aggressive, they are also surprisingly good swimmers
There are two varieties of Uganda’s largest animal. The African or Savannah Elephant can weigh up to 3.5tonnes and is more commonly seen in the savannah grasslands of Murchison Falls Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park, particularly in the open Ishasha plains in the southern sector.
The other species is the forest elephant which is significantly smaller than its savannah counterpart, but much more destructive. Forest elephants can be seen in Semuliki Park and Kibale Forest Park and in Mt. Elgon Park, where cave dwelling elephants that are attracted by the salt deposits in the rocks, are the star attraction
Rhinos are classified as threatened animals, with only 5 remaining species, two of which reside in Africa, and the other three in Asia. Uganda was once home to thousands of rhino but prolonged civil war and poaching in the 1970s and ’80s took its toll and in 1982, the last rhino living in the wild was killed. In 2005, 6 rhinos were re-introduced to the Ugandan wild at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Today, visitors can join trained rangers to track 22 rhinos on foot. The plan is to relocate the Rhinos to National Parks, but this is yet to happen
Uganda is home to the Burchells Zebra, which can be found in Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo National Park. The Zebra live in big herds and can be found grazing in the open Savanah or by the various water holes in each of the National Parks. They are social animals and they move around the park in search of food. Their similarity to horses is evident in appearance and anatomy but on account of their weak back contrary to common belief, they cannot be ridden. When Zebra's feel threatened they come together in an attempt to confuse their prey as their stripes will make it difficult to for their attacker to work out where one zebra starts and another on ends.
Uganda’s tallest animals, the Rothschild Giraffe is about 6m tall and up to 1,200kgs heavy. Giraffes prefer the open savannah grasslands where they can be seen feeding on acacia plants and leaves from other trees. The best place to see these calm giants is in Kidepo Valley Park and Murchison Falls. In 2015, 15 Rothschild giraffes were introduced in Lake Mburo National Park from Murchison Falls National Park to add to the park’s diversity.
Most antelope species are native to Africa. East Africa has about 35 different species of antelope and 29 of these can be found in the forests and woodland savannah of Uganda. Antelopes are generally distinguished by their size, colour, and horns or lack of them. Common species include the Uganda Kob, Topi, Waterbuck, Eland, lesser and greater Kudu, Grant’s gazelle and Oribi. Jackson’s Hartebeest is endemic to Uganda, and there have been recorded sightings in the Kalangala islands, of the semi-aquatic Sitatunga, which has separated hooves that are adapted to moving around in papyrus and swamps. Different species of antelope can be found in all of Uganda’s national parks.
Uganda is home to a whole host of monkeys that can be found living in and around the forested all over the country. The 8 Monkeys that can be found in Uganda are:
Black & White Colobus Monkey
Red Colobus Monkey
De Brazzas Monkey
Grey Cheeked Mangabeys