Uganda is home to amazing wildlife which is well protected and conserved in its 10 national parks and 13 wildlife reserves. There are animals of various categories such as large mammals, birds, reptiles. Check this list of 25 animals.
1.The Mountain Gorilla
Mountain gorilla (gorilla beringei beringei) is the world’s largest primate. A male gorilla called silverback’s weight is about 135 to 195 kilograms while females are about 68 to 113 kg. Mountain gorilla shares 97% of their DNA with humans and have five fingers just like a man. Unlike other subspecies, the mountain gorilla which is sub specie of the eastern gorilla does not survive in captivity or zoos. This makes it one of the rarest and critically endangered animals on planet. Gorilla numbers have recently increased from 880 to 1004 individuals in the world. This is due to tourism and conservation. About half (500) of them are found in Uganda Bwindi impenetrable forest national park. The rest of the mountain gorillas live in Virunga conservation area which includes Mgahinga national park Uganda, volcanoes national park Rwanda and Virunga national park DR Congo. Thus to see them, tourists have to plan gorilla trekking safaris and travel to Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo which are the only places on earth where mountain gorillas live.
2. Cheetahs of Kidepo National Park
Cheetah is the fastest land animal and can run 70 miles per hour. They belong to the big cats and carnivores feeding mostly on small antelopes such as duiker. They hunt by chasing their prey and suffocate it with a bite on the throat. Cheetahs in Uganda are found in Kidepo valley national park, the true African wilderness.
3. Uganda Kob – Uganda’s National Celebrity
Uganda kob is Uganda’s national antelope. It appears on the national court of arms because it a nice looking antelope. This is an indication of the diversity of antelopes, about 29 species found in Uganda. The Uganda kob in particular can be found in most of Uganda’s national parks and wildlife reserves including Queen Elizabeth, Murchison falls, Kidepo valley, Pian Upe wildlife reserve and Lake Mburo.
4. Golden monkey
Golden monkey is a rare primate found in Virunga massifs in the whole of Africa. Its body is covered with golden and black hair making it a beautiful monkey for wildlife photography. Virunga area has two parks where golden monkey can be visited through golden money tracking safaris in Mgahinga national park southwestern Uganda and Virunga national park in Rwanda.
Man’s closest relative, the chimpanzee shares 97 % of their DNA with human beings. Chimps can display human-like traits such as use of tools which include smashing fruits with rocks and drawing termites from anthill using sticks. They are very social apes living together in communities where can be seen kissing, hugging, grooming, and play and sometimes babysitting each other’s young ones. These traits are passed on to the next generation and chimps can live up to 50 years. The oldest chimpanzee ever known died at 53 years at Entebbe Zoo Uganda. Uganda has the highest population of about 1500chimpanzee many of which are found in kibale forest national park and also in budongo forest, kyambura gorge. Tourists can see chimps by undertaking chimpanzee trekking safaris to one of these places.
6. Three Horned Chameleon
This type of chameleon has three horns and hence the name three horned chameleon. It is rare and endemic to east Africa. In Uganda they are found in Ruhija sector of Bwindi and in Rwenzori mountains national park.
7. African Leopard
The African Leopard belongs to the big cat family which includes tiger, lion and jaguar. Of all, the leopard weighs slightly smaller between 30 to 90 kg but is the most strongest and shrewd. It can kill prey such as giant forest hog, larger than its size and still climb trees. However most of their prey is small and medium antelopes. Very beautiful to see its body coloring with brown, gold and black spots, but highly nocturnal and solitary. In areas where populations are not many such as Uganda, sighting a leopard remains one of the best wildlife encounters. Leopards in Uganda can be spotted in four parks which include Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, kidepo valley and kibale forest. These parks offer day and night game drive safaris and naturalist Uganda wildlife authority guides know how to look for them.
8. Lions of Uganda
Lion is known as king of the jungle because it is the dominant predator on earth. Lions live in social groups called prides which distinguishes them from other cats. A single pride can contain 4 to more than 30 lions. The largest pride of lions living has 57 in Ngorongoro crater –Tanzania.
A Pride is led and protected by males which are typically identified by the hair around its neck and stands at a height of about 4 feet. Both male and female weighs between 180 to 250 kg. Though males are the leaders of the pride, the females are the strongest hunters.
While lions are not good climbers like the leopards are, tree climbing lions are found in few places around in Africa. Ishasha wilderness in Queen Elizabeth national park Uganda it often seems that every tourist heading to Bwindi will pass through ishasha to see tree climbing lions. Other places in Uganda to see lion without relying on by chance are Murchison falls National Park. Being the king of the jungle, lions are only threatened by human hunting, poisoning and habitat loss.
9. African elephant
Elephants (loxodonta Africana) are not the largest of the land mammal on earth. A Big adult elephant can reach a height of 8-14 feet long with weight of up to 5,443 kilograms (6 tons). There are two subspecies which include the larger African elephant (live mainly in savannah plains) and the slightly smaller forest elephant which live in tropical forests. African elephants have large ears which resembles the map of the African continent hence the name African.
One of the important features of the African elephant includes the Trunk. An elephant’s trunk has 2 fingers like projections at its tip and is used for communication, touching, smelling, eating and holding objects. Other features include the tusks on both males and females. They act like scissors and are used for fighting, digging the ground, feeding on hard tree trunks. The elephant’s feet have four toenails on the front legs and three toenails on the real legs.
African elephants are considered to be intelligent and social creatures. They live in social herds which can contain 10 or up to 70 individuals composed of females and calves. Bulls tend to live a solitary life though they also live in related herds. Because they have large brains, elephants show empathy, mourn for the dead ones, have extraordinary memory such as remembering their ancestors over a long period of time.
The African buffalo also known as Cape buffalo. Buffalo is in form of a French word “boeuff” which simply means a large cow like animal. Cape buffalo is however distinctive by its dark or charcoal grey color and the shape of its large horns which grow on its forehead and curve in towards each other. African buffalo is one of the strongest and dangerous beats in the wild as they are known for counter attacking or killing their hunters and defeating a pride of lions. They have larger thick neck and head and their body weight is around 520 to 900 kilograms. They live in open and woodland savannah areas. They are grazers feeding on grass, shrubs, stems, leaves and can drink up to 40 liters twice a day.
African buffalo can live up to 20 years and give birth at about 340 days. One of Uganda’s spectacular sightings of buffaloes is the 400 herd found in Kidepo valley national park. Other parks to see buffaloes are Murchison falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo.
11. Rothschild’s Giraffe
Giraffe is the tallest animal in the world standing at a height of 5.5 meters (18 feet). Their necks are notably long enabling giraffes to foliage high on top of trees preferably acacia vegetation and also identify predators at a long distance. There are 4 species of giraffes which are Masai giraffe, Somali giraffe, Southern and northern giraffe. Uganda has the Nubian giraffes also known as Rothschild’s giraffe, a subspecies of the northern giraffe which can be seen on safari to Uganda’s safari parks including Lake Mburo, Kidepo valley and Murchison falls National Park.
Females take 15 months to give birth and give birth while standing which is somewhat strange for the newborns to fall down from at 1.5 m. OMG, but a new born giraffe can stand within 30 minutes and run just hours later. Giraffes live in social herds led by adult male and they can live for 25 to 40 years in the wild.
Zebra is one of the pretty mammals. Their body coat marked with black and white strips unique to each animal just like a human finger print is. Zebras are categorized into 3 species native to Africa which include gravy’s zebra, mountain zebra and plains zebra. Female zebras are called Mares while young ones are known as foals.
The most common are the plains zebra and what’s sough to their largest population is found in Uganda and Lake Mburo national park.
Zebras are large and strong. Weighing between 200 to 400 kg, zebras are known to migrate moving long journeys in search of fresh grass and water. Generally social animals that live together in herds consisting of several females led by a male, zebras tend to mix with antelopes such as kob, impala, topi and wildebeest as seen during wildebeest migration in Serengeti and Masai mara safaris. It is estimated that about 200,000 population of zebras move annually along with 1.5 million wildebeests including thousands of Thompson’s gazelles, eland, and topi.
13. Southern White Rhino
Both black and white rhinos were native to Uganda but due to civil conflicts, they were poached and became extinct in the 1980’s. However the good news is that this 2nd largest land mammal after the elephants has been reintroduced back to Uganda. Ziwa rhino sanctuary was established in 2005 with rhinos which have now multiplied to 24. Once numbers increase, they will be released to Murchison falls National Park.
Sitatunga also known as marsh buck is a type of antelopes that lives in thick forested papyrus swamps and wetlands. Similar to a bushbuck, Sitatunga is different by its twisted horns and the elongated hooves which enable it to move in water logged swamps without sinking unlike the bushbuck. In Uganda they are found in Lake Mburo national park and Bigodi wetland sanctuary and its well worth to visit this place for swamp board walks. Though Sitatungas live in pairs of 5- 10, it’s hard to find them instead they are usually spotted one by one. A mature male sitatunga antelope can weigh up to 100 kg.
Hippopotamus are semi aquatic mammals. In other words they live both in water and on land. Hippos weigh about 3,200 kg and are the 3rd largest animals after the rhino and elephant. Female hippos are called cows and give birth to a single calf every two years.