What Animals Can I See on Uganda Safari?

Animals on a Uganda safari: Africa is well known for offering the best wildlife safaris and Uganda is one of the continent’s prominent destinations for wildlife viewing with its impressive array of wild animals. Dubbed the “Pearl of Africa,” Uganda’s vast and diverse landscapes encompass a rich tapestry of savannah landscapes and raw jungles, hosting a remarkable variety of wildlife. Going on a safari in Uganda offers an incredible opportunity to see a wide variety of animals in their natural habitats. 

Unlike her expansive neighbors, Kenya and Tanzania, Uganda is small and packed, which offers great game-viewing opportunities with up close and personal encounters with wild animals. While mountain gorillas and chimpanzees capture much of the safari spotlight, the country boasts more than 13 primate species, offering unparalleled primate viewing experiences in Africa. Additionally, Uganda is home to the famed safari “BIG Five” – lions, elephants, buffaloes, hippos, and leopards – all of which can be readily sighted in the country’s expansive savannah parks.

Uganda’s official wildlife checklist encompasses an impressive 342 species, representing a blend of both West and East African mammals, among which 132 are large mammals, while the remainder comprises small mammals. The small mammal category includes a diverse range, such as 94 bat species, 70 rats and mice species, 33 shrews and otter shrew species, eight gerbil species, four elephant shrew species, and a solitary golden mole. 

Uganda also boasts a bird population density of over 1020 recorded species, making it a top birding safari destination for birding enthusiasts. Here are some of the must-see animals on a Uganda safari;https://www.nkuringosafaris.com/wildlife-uganda/

Animals on Uganda safari

Primates

Primates are a diverse group of mammals belonging to the order Primates, which includes lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans. They are characterized by specific anatomical features such as grasping hands with opposable thumbs, forward-facing eyes with stereoscopic vision, and relatively large brains compared to body size. Furthermore, they are limited to living primarily in trees, except for humans. 

Primates are primarily found in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They inhabit a range of environments, including forests, savannas, and mountains, and their diets can vary widely from fruit and leaves to insects and small animals. Primates in Uganda attract the most attention from tourists compared to other animals and the country boasts over 13 diurnal (active during the day) and six nocturnal primate species.

Among these, the most popular are the two great apes: the giant mountain gorillas which are the star attraction of Uganda safaris. Uganda boasts half of the world’s remaining population of mountain gorillas in the raw jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in the southwest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in the Virunga Massif. Mountain gorillas in Uganda offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for up-close encounters during guided trekking tours all year.

Animals on Uganda safari

Golden Monkeys

Golden monkeys are also one of Uganda’s most sought-after primate species. Rare and elusive, these small primates are only found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and offer the best add-on experience to your Uganda gorilla trek. Golden monkeys are a unique species known for their striking golden-orange fur and playful behaviors. Golden monkey treks offer visitors the chance to observe these endangered monkeys in their natural montane bamboo forest habitat, contributing to both conservation awareness and local tourism revenue.

Other primates to expect in Uganda’s tropical rainforests include the Blue Monkey, Grey-cheeked Mangabey, the Olive Baboon, the Red-tailed Monkey, and many others.

Animals on a Uganda safari

The African Big Five

The African Big Five traditionally refers to five iconic large mammal species found in Africa: African elephant, African lion, African leopard, African buffalo, and rhinoceros (either the black or white rhino). In Uganda, while not all members of the classic Big Five are present in most of its safari parks, there are variations due to conservation and ecological factors. Here are some of the Big Five you can see on a Uganda Safari

African Elephant

Uganda is home to populations of African elephants, particularly in protected areas such as Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and the Uganda Wildlife Education Center. These majestic creatures can be seen roaming the savannas and forests of Uganda, attracting wildlife enthusiasts and researchers alike

Animals on a Uganda safari

African Lion

Lions are found in Uganda, primarily in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park, among other reserves. While their populations may not be as dense as in some other African countries, sightings of these apex predators are still possible during safari expeditions in Uganda such as safari drives. Moreover, Uganda also boasts a fine population of the rare and unique tree-climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park and is one of only three countries in Africa that hosts these predators.  

African Leopard

Leopards are widespread across Uganda, inhabiting various national parks and reserves such as Kidepo Valley National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Known for their elusive nature and stunning beauty, African leopards are primarily found in habitats such as savannas, woodlands, and forests, where their superb camouflage and stealthy hunting abilities serve them well. While leopard sightings require patience and luck due to their secretive behavior, visitors to parks like Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park may be rewarded with glimpses of these majestic cats.

Animals on a Uganda safari

African Buffalo

African buffaloes, also known as Cape buffaloes, are prominent inhabitants of Uganda’s savannas and grasslands, particularly in national parks such as Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, and Kidepo Valley. These formidable herbivores are known for their large herds, often numbering in the hundreds. While they are known for their docile demeanor, buffaloes can be fiercely protective, especially during encounters with predators. Nonetheless, observing these iconic bovines in their natural habitat adds an exciting dimension to safari experiences in Uganda.

Rhinos

Rhinos, both black and white species, were once native to Uganda but were sadly hunted to extinction in the wild. While they are one of the most sought-after extinct species, there have been conservation efforts that have seen a successful establishment of rhino populations in protected areas like the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Located near Murchison Falls National Park, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is home to a growing number of southern white rhinos, with efforts ongoing to reintroduce black rhinos as well. The sanctuary offers guided rhino tracking experiences and enjoy the opportunity to see these magnificent animals up close.

Animals on a Uganda safari

Other Animals on a Uganda Safari

Rothschild’s Giraffes

Recognized by their unique coat patterns and elegant stature, the Rothschild’s giraffes are the tallest species of giraffes and the only kind in Uganda, making them a highlight of Uganda safaris. These graceful creatures are only found in three of Uganda’s parks: Lake Mburo National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Kidepo Valley National Park. Observing these graceful giants against the backdrop of Uganda’s diverse landscapes adds a memorable experience on our Uganda safari.

Animals on Uganda Safaris

Zebras

While zebras are not common in Uganda, the country is well-known for its fine population of Plains Zebras, also known as Burchell’s zebras. Plain zebras are typically found in East and Southern Africa, inhabiting savannas, grasslands, and open woodlands. In Uganda, Lake Mburo National Park hosts the largest population of these creatures, followed by Kidepo Valley National Park.

Antelopes

Uganda’s savannas and grasslands are home to a captivating array of antelope species, each contributing to the country’s rich wildlife diversity. Among these graceful creatures are the endemic Uganda kob, the majestic eland, Africa’s largest antelope species, impala, waterbuck, topi, Oribi, and bushbucks to name a few. Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Murchison Falls National Park are rich in several antelope species.

Animals on a Uganda safari

Hippos and Crocodiles

Located in the Great Lakes region, Uganda features are great deal of water bodies including large lakes, rivers, and wetlands that support an array of aquatic life including hippos and Nile crocodiles. The Victoria Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park and the Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park are the best places to explore hippos and Nile Crocodiles, in addition to Lake Mburo in Lake Mburo National Park. Boat safaris offer excellent opportunities to observe these aquatic giants up close.

Birds

Uganda is a paradise for bird enthusiasts, boasting a remarkable diversity of avian species across its varied landscapes. Boasting more than 1,000 bird species, including both resident and migratory birds, Uganda offers unparalleled birdwatching safaris. Key birding hotspots include several parks such as Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, among others. The diverse wetlands of Lake Victoria such as Mabamba Bay and Makanaga, as well as the Albertine Rift also offer spectacular bird sightings. 

Birders on Uganda safaris can spot iconic species such as the majestic African fish eagle, colorful turacos, elusive shoebill stork, various kingfishers, and a plethora of eagles, herons, and weavers. Whether exploring forests, wetlands, savannas, or mountains, Uganda’s avifauna delights visitors with its beauty, diversity, and unique sightings.

Animals on a Uganda safari

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