Watching wildlife is one of the main attractions and highlight of a visit to Uganda. Uganda’s national Parks are some of the most diverse in the region and some of the best in the world. Mostly, tropical forest found in them supports this diversity. They contain endemic, rare and endangered species of animals, bird, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and plants. Some of them are so species rich that they have rankings in the region and world. Uganda has a 342 number of mammal species with both West and East African mammals being well represented. Of these recorded species, a remarkable 132 are classified as large mammals and the remainder are small mammals comprising 94 bat species, 70 rats and mice, 33 shrews and otter shrews, 8 gerbils, 4 elephant shrews and 1 solitary golden mole.
Uganda’s wildlife is remarkably bountiful and diverse, and includes;
Apes: Mountain Gorilla, Long-haired Chimpanzee.
Monkeys and Baboons: Blue Monkey, L’hoests Monkey, Red-tailed Monkey, Grey –Cheeked Mangabey, Black Mangabey, De Brazzas Monkey, Golden Monkey, Dents Mona Monkey, Olive Baboon, Red Colobus, Black and White Colobus, Vervet Monkey, Bushbaby and Potto.
Civets, Genets and Mongooses: African civet, Bush Genet, African Palm Civet, Banded Mongoose.
Cats: Lions, Leopards, Cheetah, Caracal, African golden cat, African wildcat, Serval.
Hyenas: Spotted Hyena, Aard wolf, Striped Hyena
Dogs: Black-backed Jackal, Side-striped Jackal, Golden Jackal
Foxes: Bat-eared fox
Crocodiles: Nile crocodile
Elephant: African/Bush Elephant, Forest Elephant
Zebra: Burchell’s Zebra
Buffalo: African Buffalo, Forest Buffalo
Antelopes: Bushbuck, Impala, Sitatunga, Bush duiker, Eland, Blue duiker, Red forest duiker, Yellow –backed Duiker, Defassas waterbuck, Uganda Kob, Bohor Reedbuck, Jacksons Hartebeest, Topi, Oribi, Water Chevrotain, Kirk’s dik-dik, Klipspringer.
Weasels and Badgers: Zorilla (East African mole cat), Ratel (Honey Badger).
Hydraxes: Rock hydrax, Tree hydrax, Yellow-spotted or Bush hydrax.
Pangolins: Giant pangolin, Aardvark.
Rhinoceros: Black rhinoceros, White rhinoceros.
Rodents: Porcupine, Springhare, Woosnam’s Brush-furred rat, the western rift Pigmy Mouse, Kemp’s Forest rat, Delany’s Mouse, the Montane Marsh rat, Montane thicket rat, Mole rat, Papyrus rat ( 2 species ), the Rwenzori climbing Mouse.
Besides these, a number of vulnerable, critically endangered, endemic or near-endemic shrews are found in Uganda including the intriguingly named Least Long-tailed Forest Shrew.
Uganda has an excellent collection of national parks, wildlife and forest reserves. Queen Elizabeth, Semiliki, Mt. Elgon, Kibale, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga Gorilla, Rwenzori mountains and Kidepo are her national parks, while Kabwoya, Karuma, Bugungu, Katonga, Pian Upe, Semiliki, are her wildlife reserves.
Forest reserves are Kalinzu, Mabira, Budongo, Maramagambo, Mpanga, Echuya and Kanyiyo Pabidi.
Each of these supports a wide range of species and possesses a uniqueness of its own distinct from the others.
Where to Go Game Viewing & What Animals to Expect in Uganda’s Tourist Sites
Some of the wildlife found in Uganda’s national parks and reserves is listed below:
Apes: Mountain Gorilla (MG/BI); Long-haired chimpanzee (QENP /MFNP + Budongo Forest /RWSF /SW /KF /KNP /KW).
Monkeys and Baboons: L’hoests Monkey (SRF /B I /KNF /QENP); Blue Monkey (SFR /BI /KFNP /MGNP /RMNP /QENP /KNP); Red- tailed monkey (SFR /BI /QENP /KNP /KF); Grey-Cheeked Mangabey (SFR /KNP); Black Mangabey (SFR /KF); De Brazzas Monkey (SFR); Golden Monkey (MGNP); Dents Mona Monkey (SFR); Olive Baboon (SNP /BINP /KFR /KNP /LMNP /QENP /MFNP /MFR); Red Colobus (SNP /KNP); Black and White Colobus (SNP /BINP /QENP /KNP /LMNP /KFR /KWR /MFNP); Vervet Monkey (KNP /QENP /SNP /SWR /KWR /LMNP ).
Civets, Genets and Mongooses: African civet (BINP /QENP /LMNP /MGNP /SNP); Bush Genet (MFNP /QENP /LMNP /MGNP /SNP); African Palm civet (QENP/ LMNP); Banded Mongoose (QENP /LMNP /MFNP)
Cats: Lions (KNP /QENP /MFNP /SWR /KWR); Leopard (KNP /QENP /MFNP /SNP /LMNP /SWR /MGNP); African Golden cat (MGNP /BINP /QENP); African Wildcat (QENP /MGNP /MFNP /LMNP); Serval (QENP /MFNP /MGNP); cheetah (KVNP)
Hyenas: Spotted Hyena (QENP /MGNP /MFNP /LMNP).
Dogs: Black-backed jackal (MFNP); side-striped jackal (QENP /BINP /MGNP/MFNP).
Hippopotamus: Common Hippopotamus (QENP /KNMP /SNP /MFNP /SWR /KWR).
Elephants: African/Bush Elephant (QENP /MFNP /SWR); Forest Elephant (SF /BINP /KNP /SW /MGNP).
Giraffes: Rothschild’s Giraffe (MFNP), Okapi (SNP? )
Foxes: Bat-eared Fox. (KVNP)
Buffaloes: (KNP /QENP /MGNP /MFNP /LMNP /RMNP /SWR /KWR); Forest Buffalo (SNP).
Antelopes: Sitatunga (QENP /KNP /MFNP /LMNP /SNP); Bushbuck (QENP /MFNP /KNP /BINP /MGNP /SWR /KWR); Impala (LMNP); Bush Duiker (QENP /MFNP /LMNP /KWR); Eland (LMNP); Blue Duiker (QENP /MFNP); Red Forest Duiker (QENP/KNP); Yellow-backed Duiker (QENP /BINP); De fassas Waterbuck (QENP /MFNP /SWR /LMNP /KWR); Uganda Kob (QENP /MFNP /SWR /KWR); Bohor Reedbuck (QENP /MFNP /LMNP /SWR /KWR); Jackson’s Hartebeest (MFNP); Water Chevrotain (SNP); Topi (QENP /LMNP); Oribi (MFNP /LMNP).
Crocodiles: Status; previously endangered. Distribution; well represented. Nile crocodile (QENP /MFN /SNP).
Pigs and Hogs: African Bush Pig (QENP /KNP /MGNP /MFNP / LMNP); Giant Forest Hog (MGNP/QENP/BINP/KNP); Warthog (QENP /KNP /MFNP /LMNP /SWR /KWR).
Zebra: Burchell’s Zebra (LMNP).
Pangolins: Giant Pangolin (QENP /MFNP); Aardvark/African ant-bear (QENP /MFNP).
Weasels, Badgers: Zorilla/East African Pole cat (QENP /MFNP /MGNP); Ratel/Honey Badger (QENP /MGNP /MFNP).
Hydraxes: Status; seen but not common (5 species) Rock hydrax (Mt ENP /KVNP), Tree hydrax (BINP /RMNP), Yellow-spotted/Bush hydrax (MFNP /LMNP)
Otters: Status; seen but rare, not common because of nocturnal habits, (3 species in sub- Saharan Africa). Cape Clawless Otter, DRC Clawless Otter (LMNP but associated with most wetland habitats but diurnal species unusually common and visible on lake Bunyonyi in Kigezi).
Tortoise and Terrapines; Tortoise (Reptile) Status; fairly represented, not very common. Leopard Tortoise is the commonest of the terrestrial tortoises and often seen. Terrapines (4 species) including Nile soft-shelled Terrapine.
Rodents: Status; Common. Porcupine(3species) (LMNP /MFNP /KWR) Springhare(MFNP) Woosnam’s Brush –furred rat ( MFNP /LMNP /KVNP);Western rift pigmy mouse (KNP /SNP /KFR); Kemps Forest rat, (SNP /KNP /KR /MFR); Delany’s Mouse (GENP /LMNP); the Montane marsh rat ( QENP /MFNP); Montane thicket rat (BINP /RMNP /Mt. ENP); Mole rat (SNP /KNP /Mt. ENP /KWP); Papyrus Rat (2 species); (MFNP); the Rwenzori Climbing mouse (RMNP)
Snakes: Status; not endangered, numerous and common. Rock Python, Puff adder, Gabon viper, Cobras, mambas, Boomslang, green tree snake, egg-eating snake (QENP /KNP /SNP /KVNP /MT ENP /LMNP /BINP /MGNP /Wildlife and Forest Reserves.)
Lizards: Status; not endangered, numerous and common. Giant monitor lizard ( QENP, but are common in the wild) agama, skinks,( most national parks, wildlife and forest reserves), common house gecko ( houses)
Chamelions: Status; common and widespread.
Insects: Status; common and evenly distributed. Goliath beetle, Rhinoceros Beetle, Biting Midges, Soldier Ants ETC ( SNP /QENP /LMNP /MFNP /KFNP /KVNP /KWR /KWR /MFR /MPFR)
Status; critically endangered and restricted to conservation areas where they have been re-introduced and numbers bolstered. Black and White Rhinoceros (MFNP)
Locally extinct, are great wanderers and small populations still survive. Uganda has no recorded number but are likely to be seen. (MFNP /QENP)
Key: MGNP- Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, QENP-Queen Elizabeth National Park, MFNP- Murchison Falls National Park, SNP- Semiliki National Park, BINP- Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, LMNP- Lake Mburo National Park, KNP- Kibale National Park,MT ENP-Mt Elgon National Park, KVNP- Kidepo Valley National Park, RMNP-Rwenzori Mountain National Park, SWR- Semiliki Wildlife Reserve, KWR-Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve, MFR- Mabira Forest Reserve, KPFR- Kanyiyo Pabidi Forest Reserve, KFR-Kalinzu Forest Reserve, BFR-Budongo Forest Reserve. MFR-Maramagambo Forest Reserve.
The above wildlife list is not an absolute but a selective one, for Uganda’s Wildlife range and quantities are simply incredible!
No visit to Uganda’s parks is complete without finding and watching some of these animals.