Looking for top wildlife animals to see in Uganda? Sometimes when you are planning your travel, you have a check list of animals that you would want to see. This helps you plan better else you will end up travelling to a country to see the same animals you saw from a previous destination.
A tourist once messaged me asking for rare sights in Uganda. He claimed he did not want to see animals he had previously seen hence, narrowed down his interest to mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, tree climbing lions and golden monkeys.
As a matter of fact, most people visit Uganda for gorilla trekking. They are less interested in game viewing as countries like Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia offer better opportunities. Game usually comes as a supplement to gorillas unless a client solely has interest in it.
While i avail the checklist of animals in Uganda, i want you to know that visiting Uganda goes beyond wildlife watching. There are lots other activities to do and places to visit. A Uganda tour operator will always endeavor to diversify your itinerary depending on the proposed number of days.
So the next time you visit Uganda, write down all the animals on your checklist and go on ticking the ones you have seen. Its not a must to see all of them as nature is funny but you can be assured of some common sights like mountain gorillas, chimpanzees, golden monkeys and more.
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Wild Animals in Uganda
So lets get into the actual list. I will keep expanding this checklist and updating it whenever i can.
1 – Mountain Gorillas
Mountain gorillas are undoubtedly the best reason to go on Uganda safaris. Uganda is one of the only three countries with mountain gorillas in the world. The other two are Rwanda and Congo but the highest population of mountain gorillas live in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, making it the best place to see gorillas in Africa. Only one gorilla family lives in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park apparently. You can read my Uganda gorilla trekking review here.
Mountain gorillas share over 97% of human DNA. Previously they were marked as endangered but due to conservation efforts, their numbers recently surpassed 1000 and wrote them off the endangered list. The biggest gratitude goes to all the people who carried out gorilla trekking. When you buy a gorilla permit, majority of the money goes towards conserving gorillas. Its one way of giving back.
Please note that gorilla safaris are one of the most expensive. A gorilla permit alone costs $600 each for a normal tracking experience and $1500 each for a habituation experience excluding accommodation and transportation costs.
2 – Chimpanzees
Chimpanzees are man’s closes cousins. They share over 98.7% of human DNA and act no different from humans. Chimps are very intelligent and often learn to do things humans do. Ugandan chimps are found in Kibale Forest National Park; apparently the best place for chimpanzee trekking in the world, Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary, Budongo Forest, Kalinzu Forest and Kyambura Gorge.
Unlike gorillas, a normal chimpanzee permit costs $150 each where as a chimpanzee habituation permit costs $240 each. You should consider adding chimps on your check list. These apes will blow your mind. They often jump on your backs, try to show affection to ladies and in some cases go as far as pulling their skirts up. They are very playful in nature.
3 – Tree Climbing Lions
Uganda is one of the only two places in the world where you can find tree climbing lions. These lions are found in the Ishasha Sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park. These lions can also be found at Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania and no where else in the world. They spend their afternoons relaxing on trees.
They can best be spotted between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm when they are not hunting. Make sure Tree Climbing Lions in top of your list. They are great to spot and not so hard to locate. Finding them only becomes a problem during rainy days.
4 – Golden Monkeys
Uganda’s Golden Monkeys are found in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These monkeys were introduced in Mgahinga to add diversity to tourism related activities in the park. Besides gorilla tourism, an experience with golden monkeys is an awesome one that every tourist will enjoy.
Very few try it out but its definitely worth a try.
If you prefer to see mountain gorillas and golden monkeys in Uganda, i suggest you book your activities in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in south western Uganda.
5 – Primates
Uganda has so many primates besides the common gorillas, chimpanzees and golden monkeys. Some of these include black and white colubus monkeys, red colubus monkeys, red tailed monkeys, blue monkey, grey cheeked mangabey, olive baboons, patas monkeys, L’hoest monkeys and a whole lot more.
These primates are distributed into various forests. You can see them while carrying out your safari activities in forests and a few wildlife parks.
6 – Rothschild Giraffe
Unlike other animals, Rothschild Giraffes are a common sight in Uganda especially in Murchison Falls National Park. The Rothschild Giraffe is a sub species of giraffes. It is a very endangered species of wildlife. A 2016 census announced that only 1670 individuals are in the wild apparently.
These giraffes can best be seen at Murchison Falls National Park but can also be seen in Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.
7 – Shoebill Stock
8 – African Lions
9 – Rhinos
10 – African Elephant
11 – Cape Buffaloes
12 – Kobs
13 – Impalas
14 – Zebras
15 – Bush Bucks
16 – Antelopes
17 – Leopards
18 – Forest Elephants
19 – Cheetahs
20 – Hippopotamuses
21 – Crocodiles
Crocodiles are a very common sight in Ugandan national parks. Almost all Uganda safari park with a river or lake have crocodiles in it. They can best be spotted during boat rides or launch trips. The common species is the Nile Crocodile but a rare species called the Suchus lives in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Crocodiles can best be spotted in Murchison Falls National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, you will see them in plenty as you enjoy your boat ride or launch cruise on the famous Kazinga Channel. In Murchison Falls, they can be spotted in River Nile especially when ferry crossing or taking a launch trip to the bottom of the falls.
22 – Warthog
Warthogs in Uganda can best be seen in Savannah National Parks. These include Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and Semuliki Valley National Park. You can also find them in some wildlife reserves.
This wild comical-looking animal has an over-sized head, protruding tusks, bristly mane and very long-skinny legs that makes it kneel down often to grave. When they are frightened, they sprint with their tails vertical. Warthogs can’t dig so they often use holes that have already been dug by other animals for shelter.
23 – Birds
Uganda is a birder’s haven. Let alone the huge species of birds that are shelters by this pearl of Africa, Uganda offers access to various habitat that are rich with birds unlike other destinations. You will get to meet so many birds at a close distance.
Uganda’s stunning avian variety of over 1,008 species similar to United Kingdom’s is attributed to location. Uganda sits in between the East African savanna region, the West African rain forest region and the northern semi-desert, which all favors birds.
The major key to Uganda’s diversity is none other that its various habitats: semi-arid deserts, rich savannah landscapes, lowland and high montane rainforests, vast wetlands, a couple of volcanoes and an Afro-alpine zone. Uganda elevates to an altitude of 5000m from 600m.
24 – Spotted Hyenas
A spotted hyenas laughs out loud to inform its group members about a source of food. You can hear this noise from as far as three to four miles away and is one of the common sounds made by these animals for communication with each other.
You can best spot hyenas from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo National Park or Kidepo Valley National Park especially during night game drives. Hyenas are a rare sight in Uganda and it takes a very good tour guide to locate one for you.
The next time you plan to come to Uganda. Challenge yourself by selected a number of animals from this list and communicate this to your Uganda tours and travel company.
They will tailor for you a package with attractions that have these animals. Do not visit without a desired sight else you will end up seeing animals you have seen before.