Are you planning to go on a wildlife safari in Uganda? There is a lot of wildlife to see in Uganda. From the big five animals that travelers seek for on African safaris to the rare and endangered mountain gorillas, there is an impressive array of animals to see on a Uganda safari through the wilderness parks. Here are the top 10 animals that tourists seek for from Uganda.
Follow the links below to learn about some of the wildlife found in Uganda. I have tried to include interesting facts and behavioral information with the hopes that people planning safaris will realize that the cats are not the ONLY interesting animals out there!
You will be richly rewarded if you spend some time watching herds of antelopes to try to determine dominance hierarchies, watching mixed groupings of animals to see the ways that they interact cross-species, and even watching a grouping (called a “tower”) of giraffes to see if you can determine genders just by observing where they are feeding in the acacia trees.
In many of the animal accounts, the basic information is at the beginning presented in an informal way. For those wanting to go a bit deeper into the behaviors, read down in the “Detailed Information” section, which has a lot of information from The Behavior Guide to African Mammals and a few other sources, all referenced in the text.
- African Elephant
- Banded Mongoose
- Black-and-White Colobus Monkey
- Cape Buffalo
- Rothschild’s Giraffe
- Spotted Hyaena
- Uganda Kob
- Vervet Monkey
The lion is one of the members in the big five animals that are seen on the Ugandan safari. Lions in Uganda are found in Kidepo and Queen Elizabeth National Park. lions are the most social among the big cats and they live in family groups called prides that consist of several related females, cubs and one or two adult males. The cubs are generally born around the same time and the lionesses take turns babysitting them. The lionesses do most of the hunting and they usually target big game like giraffes or buffaloes. The males are responsible for protecting the pride from enemies.
Though these king cats don’t typically attack humans, there are instances where they have. Lions are the only cats to live in groups and African Lions can reach weights of up to half a ton! The most renowned incident of man-eating lions happened during the constructions of the Kenya-Uganda railroad in 1898, where a pair of male lions began attacking railway workers, killing several over the duration of nine months.
This is the most elusive member of the Big Five, for its spotted coat allows it to blend in with its surroundings. Many people consequently have it on their most-desired Uganda animal list.
The leopard is also the most arboreal of the big cats, and it is strong enough to haul its prey up a tree, so it can leisurely eat it without being robbed by hyenas or lions. Leopards are also skilled swimmers, can jump up to ten feet in the air, and can run up to 35 miles per hour.
These majestic animals are a pleasure to watch from afar away distance as they peacefully surface calm waters. However, in reality they might not be as ‘gentle’ as they seem. Hippos are said to be responsible for the deaths of many people per year. Many of them actively protect and defend their territories along the banks of rivers and lakes. Female hippos can also act out with extreme aggression if they sense a threat coming between them and their babies, who stay back in the water whilst she feeds on shore. The attributes that make hippos so dangerous are their running speeds of 32 kilometers and their 50 centimeters canines within their massive jaws. Hippopotamus have no sweat glands, so they spend a lot of time in the water to cool off. They can remain completely submerged for six minutes before needing to come up for air.
Chimpanzees and humans have about 98 percent of their DNA in common. A chimpanzee troop can have between 30 and 150 individuals. They live in grasslands, woodlands and tropical rain forests. While chimpanzees are omnivores, their favorite food is fruit. Chimps reach maturity when they are between 11 and 13 years old, and they can live for up to 60 years. In Uganda, they are found in Kibale Forest National Park, Budongo forest and Kaniyo Pabidi located within Murchison Falls National Park, the Kyambura Gorge found in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Ngamba Island Sanctuary, the Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Semliki wildlife Reserve to mention but a few.
Be ready to meet the wonder and majesty of Uganda’s highly endangered mountain gorillas. The challenging trek through the steamy jungle of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is all worth it once you’re beholding these beautiful beings. There are 12 habituated family groups both in Bwindi and Mgahinga Park for trekking. In order to see these animals best, its better to visit these parks during the dry season as you need also to make clear bookings in advance to avoid disappointments.
Known in Uganda as one of the Big Five, the African Buffalo is widely considered a very dangerous animal, killing approximately 200 people each year Africa at large. These giant creatures can weigh up to 1.5 tons, and can grow up to 1.7 metres in height, and 2.7 metres in length. When threatened, use their razor sharp horns on their heads to attack. Buffalos have been reported to kill more people than they do animals, though the claim is also made of hippos and crocodiles. They usually travel in intimidating mobs, but are one of the few animals that, if alone and injured, will actively stalk and kill humans.
It’s extremely unlikely that you will come into contact with an elephant outside of a protected game reserve or National Park but it’s worth noting that these magnificent beasts have impressive power and strength. They can reach weights of up to around 7,000 kg’s, giving them fatal skull-crushing, stomping, and trampling abilities. African Elephants, particularly older bulls and young males, can be aggressive even when not provoked, and with the creatures killing up to 500 people worldwide each year, most fatalities happen by victims being trampled to death. Be sure to be extra cautious around elephants with babies, as just like humans, they will protect their young at all costs.
Both black and white rhinos continue to fight for their survival, their numbers are plummeting at astonishing rates due to poaching. This is a battle many animal conservationists are currently fighting, but it is always worth keeping your wits about you when spotting a rhino in the wild. These stocky animals are rather bad-tempered and extremely short-sighted, and won’t hesitate to charge anything they perceive to be a threat. Adult rhinos can weigh up to 2,800 kg’s and can run up to speeds of about 64 km/per hour for short duration at a time, so always be sure to keep your distance. In 2005, the Uganda Wildlife Authority worked with some other groups to establish the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary and reintroduce the southern white rhinoceros. They started off with six animals, and those numbers have tripled to 19. Other Uganda wildlife have made their home in the sanctuary which is the only place in Uganda where visitors may see a rhinoceros in the wild.
The Rothschild’s giraffe also known as the Uganda giraffe, is the one giraffe subspecies found in Uganda. It is also the tallest of the giraffes and can reach a height of 19 feet! Even a newborn giraffe stands as tall as a man. Sadly, the Rothschild’s giraffe is endangered; only a few hundred still live in the wild.
The sitatunga is a semi-aquatic antelope that lives in swamps. Its splayed feet help it swim.
Males are larger than females and can weigh up to 275 pounds and be as much as 63 inches long. A frightened sitatunga will retreat into deep water so that only its nostrils are visible.