The number of wild animals found in Uganda is impressive to travelers that flock to this tiny east African country. Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is rich with various tree species, plant life, beautiful landscapes, and abundant wildlife, including the great Apes (Chimpanzee & Mountain Gorilla) and the Big 5. The country enjoys perfect weather for wildlife safari holidays throughout the year. The tropical climate is ideal for wildlife viewing.
It is every traveler’s fascination to visit Uganda and be able to have the once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of the Africa safari big five wild animals (Lion, Leopard, Elephant, Giraffe, and Rhinoceros).
Well, the big five are not the only animals in Uganda to be marveled at! Uganda has over 350 species of mammals of all sizes. They range from large (like gorillas, rhinos, buffaloes, lions, and elephants) to small ones (like bats, bush babies, and shrews).
The animals found in Uganda can be grouped into these categories:
- Primates – mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, red-tailed monkeys, golden monkeys, grey-cheeked mangabey, and many more
- Carnivores – Lion, Leopards, African wildcats, cheetahs, hyena, and many more
- Herbivores – Buffalos, elephants, Giraffes, Hippos, Rhino, Zebra, Antelope, Uganda Kob and many more
- Reptiles – Crocodiles, pythons, snakes, monitor lizards, chameleons.
- Birds- African eagle, vultures, turacos, and many more
Carnivorous Animals Found in Uganda
There are 38 carnivore species in Uganda
- Cheetah is very rarely seen and is heavily spotted with a greyhound-like build and distinctive black tear-marks. They are speedy animals though the least powerful among the large predators. They are found in grassland and savannah habitats such as the Kidepo National Park.
- Lions, the king of the wilderness, weigh 680kg and reaches a height of 165cm. They usually prey on antelopes and buffalos. The females are the hunters. They are pretty common in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley National Parks. They are not present in Lake Mburo National Park. The famous tree-climbing lions are found in Ishasha in Queen Elizabeth.
- Leopard is quite similar to the cheetah but can be differentiated from their rosette-shaped spots and are more powerfully built. They prefer wooded or rocky habitats and are present in most national parks in Uganda but regularly seen along channel drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- African civets– are not easily seen since they are nocturnal but are common in most parks. They are bulky, longhaired with a cat-like face.
- Spotted hyena are bulky with a sloping back, dark brown spots, and blessed with mighty jaws that can crack through tough bones and skin. They are usually found in the savannah and have exceptional hunting skills, capable of killing an animal as large as a wildebeest. They are, however, absent in Kidepo National Park.
- Mongooses are regularly seen around the Mweya peninsular in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The species include; Egyptian mongoose, Marsh mongoose, Slender mongoose, white-tailed mongoose, and banded mongoose.
- Genets are nocturnal, resembling cats but are related to civets. The species include servaline genes, large-spotted genes, and small-spotted genes seen on night drives in Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Interestingly they are attracted to human waste.
- Otters are aquatic predators associated with most wetlands and appear in some areas in Lake Mburo National Park. The species include; the darker spotted-necked otter, smaller in size and very active between dusk and dawn, the Cape clawless otter, and the Congo clawless otter is regarded to be the largest African otters.
- The bat-eared fox is more associated with the dry open country and appears only in Kidepo national park. They are small in size with a striking silver-Grey color, huge ears, and black eye-mask often seen moving in pairs or small family groups during the cooler hours of the day.
- Jackals are mostly savannah habitats hunting various birds and mammals and sometimes eat a variety of fruits and bulbs. There is the side-striped jackal and the Black-backed found in Bwindi, Mgahinga, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo National Park.
- Smaller cats include several species like;
- Caracal medium-sized with a reddish-brown coat, tufted ears, and prefers the open habitats found only in Kidepo National Park. The African golden cat caracal is widely spread in western Uganda and seen in every forested national park except Semliki.
- African wild cat appears in most Savannah habitats in Uganda.
- Serval is similar to a pale coat, widely spread in Uganda, and loves to live in varied habitats from woodland to forests.
On an all-inclusive Uganda safari, you can’t miss catching sight of Herbivorous animals in Uganda’s plains, at least in every grassland you look. Herbivores are the most widespread wild animals found in Uganda. These are what you expect to see on your Uganda safari Vacation.
- Rhinoceros – Black rhino is extinct, and the white rhino had just been reintroduced in Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in 2005.
- Giraffe, specifically Rothschild’s giraffe, is the world’s tallest land mammal and can only be found in Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, and Kidepo Valley national parks. Its swaying gait comes from moving both right legs simultaneously, followed by both left legs.
- Buffalo is among the big five and is known to be one of Uganda’s most dangerous species due to its unpredictable and defensive nature. They can easily trample on a lion that attacks them. They live in large herds in the savannah and smaller herds in the forests and are found in all national parks.
- The hippopotamus is a large aquatic animal, has webbed feet, and is the third-largest land mammal after the elephant and the rhinoceros weighing about 1,500–1,800 kg. They have no sweat glands and spend most of their days submerged in water to keep cool, as they have. They appear on almost all water bodies but can be seen best in Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, and Lake Mburo National Parks.
- Burchell’s zebra has beautiful striped black and white color existing only in Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo, and Kidepo Valley National Parks.
- The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal weighing around 6,000kgs. They are not found in Lake Mburo.
- Antelopes are identified with 8 in the category of large antelopes with a shoulder height of above 120cm, 8 in the medium-sized category with a shoulder height between 75cm-90cm, and small antelopes with a shoulder height of between 30cm-60cm.
The larger antelopes are;
- Eland is the largest antelope with fawn-brown with large dewlap and short-spiraled horns, sometimes with light white stripes on its sides. They appear around Lake Mburo National Park, Kidepo Valley, and the surrounding areas.
- Greater Kudu is handsome with a Grey-brown coat with long, elegant spiral horns and white side stripes.
- Hartebeest commonly seen is Jackson’s hartebeest – an unusual, flat-faced creature living in lightly wooded and open Savannah habitats, frequently seen in the Ishasha sector of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo, and Kidepo valley.
- Oryx is ash-Grey with sports distinctive large, scimitar-shaped horns and regal commonly found in Kidepo National Park. It is more familiar with the semi-desert and dry acacia woodland.
- Defassa waterbuck has a grey-brown coat, white rump, and large curved horns and grazes near water. They are found in most savannah national parks.
The medium sized antelope include the following;
- Sitatunga is semi-aquatic, large with a shaggier coat with both sexes having stripes, and has distinctively splayed hooves adapted to its favored habitat of papyrus and other swamps. It is found in all six national parks.
- Impala is handsome, slender with a chestnut coloring, sleek appearance, and distinctive lyre horns for males. They have broad-jump skills. They are only found in Lake Mburo.
- The lesser kudu is similar to the greater kudu but only smaller in size and less striped, found in Kidepo National Park.
- Grant’s gazelle are lightly built tan in color.
- Reedbuck has small crescent-shaped horns and a Grey-brown in color. The Bohor reedbuck is found in all the four Savannah national parks of Uganda. The mountain reedbuck is found in Kidepo National Park.
- Uganda kob is related to the waterbuck and reedbuck but reddish-brown in color and bulkier in appearance. They are found in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Semliki, Kidepo National Park, and Katonga wildlife reserves. The small-sized antelope in Uganda belongs to the Duiker family, characterized by their small size and their love for thickly forested habitats.
- Forest duiker is relatively large with a striking yellow back and heavier than a bushbuck. Types of the forest duiker include;
- The Harvey’s red duiker is tiny with a chestnut-brown color and is found around the forested parts of Queen Elizabeth national park and Kibale forest.
- The blue duiker is smaller with a grey-blue coat found in Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Kibale, and Bwindi National Park.
- Peter’s duiker is found in Kibale, Bwindi, and Queen Elizabeth national parks.
- The black-fronted duiker is found in Mgahinga and Bwindi forests.
- Grey duiker is speckled with a Grey-brown coat found in woodland and savannah habitats, seen in all four of the Savannah national parks and Mount Elgon.
- Oribi has a red-brown back, white underparts, and a diagnostic black scent gland under its ears. They are found in the tall grasslands, and it is seen in all the Savannah national parks. Borassus are located in the northern grassland of the Murchison falls national park.
- Klipspringer has goat-like habits with a dark grey coat and almost speckled living in pairs in suitable habitats in Kidepo and Lake Mburo national parks.
- Guenther’s dik-dik is small, with a dark red-brown coat, distinctive white eye markings, and very pretty. They are found in the dry Savannah around Kidepo valley.
- Bates’ pygmy antelope is not a duiker but similar and appears in the same favored habitats. It is found in Semliki National Park and the forests bordering Queen Elizabeth National Park’s southern half.
- Swine – there are many species found;
- Warthog is grey with tusks on both sides of the mouth seen in family groups. They are common in all Savannah national parks.
- Bushpig is nocturnal and prefers thickets and dense woodland. They are not found in Rwenzori National Park.
- The giant forest hog is nocturnal and rarely seen. They are found in most parks in the west.
Primates Found in Uganda
Among the most popular wild animals found in Uganda are the primates–the group that contains all the species commonly related to the lemurs, monkeys, and apes, with the latter category including humans. And the fascinating animal visitors who come on Uganda safari to see are the mountain gorillas found in Bwindi montane and the Virunga Mountains and the playful human cousins, the chimpanzee found in Kibale, Budongo, and Kaniyo Pabidi Forests.
- Gorilla is the largest primate weighing up to 210kgs. The species are the western lowland gorilla, the lowland gorilla, and the mountain gorilla. Guests can see the endangered mountain gorillas in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. You can track the gorillas in Uganda all year long.
- A chimpanzee is a black-coated ape and is considered to be amongst the most intelligent. Chimps are closely related to humans and can use tools. They have been habituated in Budongo and Kanyiyo Pabidi forests, Kibale Forest National, and the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. You can track chimps all year long.
- Vervet monkey has a black face with very distinctive blue male genitals. They are found all over Uganda.
- De brazza’s monkey has a hairy face, a reddish-brown patch around its eyes, a white band across its brow, a white mustache, and a beard with a relatively short tail. They are found in Mount Elgon and Semliki national parks.
- Black-and-white colobus monkeys are black with a white face, whitetail, long white hair running from the shoulders to rump, and white tufts at their long tails’ ends. Infants are born pure white.
- Baboons, Olive Baboon, are larger with a dog-like face and are found in roadsides, countryside, parks, exception the montane regions of Mgahinga Gorillas Park, Ruwenzori Mountains, and Mount Elgon.
- Blue Monkeys are dark-blue-grey in color, white throat, and a white patch on the chest with thick fur and backward-projecting hair on its forehead. They are not present in Murchison Falls National Park and Lake Mburo National Park.
- L’hoest’s monkey has a black face with backward projecting white whiskers partially covering its ears and carries its tail in an upright position. They are very hard to see because it prefers very dense forests. It is found in the Maramagambo forest, Kibale forest, Bwindi forest, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- The red-tailed monkey has a brownish color, white whiskers, and a coppery tail with a heart-shaped patch on the nose. They are found in Kibale forest, Bwindi forest, Mpanga, and Budongo forest reserves, and Semliki and Queen Elizabeth national parks.
- Red colobus has a slightly tufted crown. You can see it in Kibale Forest National Park, especially around Bigodi Wetland sanctuary and a few of them in Semliki National Park.
- Patas monkey has a lankier build, a light reddish-brown coat, and a black stripe above the eyes but could easily be confused with Vervet monkey. They are found in the dry savannah in Kidepo and Murchison Falls National Parks.
- Potto is a medium-sized sloth-like creature that spends the night foraging upside down from tree branches. They are nocturnal and are found in Kibale forest, Bwindi, and Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- Bushbabies, also called gala, goes. They have sparkling large eyes and have a distinctive piercing cry that can be heard, especially at night. They are found in all of Uganda’s Savannah reserves.
- Lesser bushbaby found include the eastern needled-clawed bushbaby, Thomas bushbaby, Dwarf bushbaby
- The golden monkey is a sub-species of the blue monkey and is found in the Virunga Volcanoes’ bamboo forests. They are found in Rwanda, Uganda, and DRC. They have a golden body, cheeks, tails with black limbs, crowns on their heads and tail end, and 10 to 25 pounds.
- Gray-cheeked mangabeys are greyish, and black has a shaggy appearance. They live in low and moderate-altitude rainforests. They are found in Mabira forest, Semliki, and Kibale Forest National Parks
Reptiles in Uganda
Among the wild animals found in Uganda are cold-blooded reptiles. Thanks to its hot equatorial climate, Uganda is a haven for many cold-blooded reptiles. The largest of these is the Nile crocodile, observed along the banks of rivers and lakes, basking open-mouthed in the heat as blackbird plovers pick tasty morsels from between their teeth. The species was once threatened with extinction as a result of being hunted for its high-quality leather.
- Nile crocodile is the largest living reptile that can grow up to the length of 6m. They feed on fish, mammals who come to water bodies. It drowns its prey first, stores it under a tree until it is decomposed for better eating. They are seen in Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, and Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
- Python – they are giant snakes that squeeze, crash and swallow their prey. You can spot the bat-eating python in the Maramagambo forest.
- Snakes – There are many species, including puffadder, black cobra, green snake, etc. They are common in the savannah and forest areas around Uganda.
When is the best time for wildlife viewing?
You can visit most Uganda safari parks throughout the year. However, the best time for viewing Animals Found in Uganda is the Dry season (from June to August and December to February). The dry season is when animals congregate near rivers and water points. During the rainy season, the roads can become impassable, hiking trails become slippery and challenging, and the overall experience might be compromised. Find out more about when the best time to visit Uganda.
Uganda, blessed with warm tropical weather, is a haven with various wildlife, plant life, and adventure activities. You will get a closer look at different wild animals found in Uganda, from mammals, primates, reptiles, and birdlife. Extremely fascinating are the changing vegetation from Savannah, tropical forests, mountain vegetation, hygrophilous vegetation in water points, and the steppe.