What are the most popular wildlife species in Uganda
Uganda is one of the best tourist destinations in Africa and this is due to her amazing attractions including her rich wildlife diversity which is composed of a number of amazing species including those that are endemic and critically endangered.
Uganda exclusively hosts some of the world’s rarest species including birds, primates and mammals which have made Uganda safaris popular by attracting thousands of travelers from all over the world. The Pearl of Africa has got about 400 mammal species and over 1000 species of birds but lets point out the most outstanding out of this variety as far as attracting tourists is concerned.
Uganda is one of the only 3 countries in the world with mountain gorillas, the other 2 being Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Until recently in 2018, mountain gorillas were regarded as critically endangered but thanks to the intensive conservation efforts from wildlife authorities that have led to the steady increase in their population over the past few decades. This increase prompted the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to remove mountain gorillas from the list of critically endangered species and recategorized them as endangered. Of the 3 countries, Uganda has the highest number of mountain gorillas estimated to be around 500 individuals out of the global population of 1,063 animals. Most of Uganda’s mountain gorillas live in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park which has about 15 families of these endangered species and one family lives in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park which is Uganda’s second home of mountain gorillas. The unique character of mountain gorillas including their human-like behavior which is due to the fact that they share about 98% of the human DNA is one of the major reasons that make these gentle great apes very attractive to travelers. The conservation regulations limit travelers to spend only hour in the presence of gorillas but this time is described as ‘magical’ due to the breathtaking experience of the meeting these large primates face-to-face.
Uganda’s biggest home of chimpanzees, Kibale Forest National Park is referred to as the primates’ capital of the world due to a huge number of primate species in the park especially the chimpanzees. Uganda has an estimated number of over 5000 chimpanzees which live in several parks across the country. This is the main reason why Uganda still remains one of the best destinations on the continent for primates tracking. In addition to Kibale Forest National Park, Chimps in Uganda can also be found in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park and at Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary at Ngamba Island on Lake Victoria near Entebbe International Airport where they live in captivity. Like gorillas, chimpanzees also share about 98% of the human DNA and they are known as our closest relatives in the wild. The huge presence of chimps in large numbers which makes them readily available to be seen by tourists at any time they visit the parks is one of the major reasons that makes these breathtaking primates very attractive to travelers.
The “big five”
Uganda is one of the few countries on the continent with the famous Africa’s “big five” within her savannah parks. This exciting list of big game species which includes lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhinoceros makes Uganda one of the favorite destinations for big game lovers. Apart from the rhinoceros which are separately visited at Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary at Nakasongola along the Kampala-Gulu highway, the other 4 species can be seen in all the 3 Uganda’s biggest savannah parks which include Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park. Most of these big game species especially buffaloes and elephants are readily seen in very large populations in these parks which is a big motivating factor for the visitors.
Uganda’s tree-climbing lions are found in Queen Elizabeth National Park in the famous Ishasha sector located in the southern part of the park. These breathtaking animals are commonly seen during afternoon game drives as they hang up in branches of the transparent acacia trees trying to spot their prey graze in the surrounding area. The tree-climbing lions became one of the travelers’ favorites who are always excited with the big opportunity to take great shots of these readily posing animals.
The world’s remaining population of the Rothschild giraffe is found only in Uganda and Kenya. In Uganda, these highly endangered animals can be seen in Murchison Falls National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park. in 2016 the population of the Rothschild giraffe was estimated to be about 1,669 individuals in the wild.
Small game variety
There is a variety of small game species that are commonly seen within Uganda’s national parks and these include antelopes like greater Kudu, Jackson’s hartebeest, waterbuck, the semi-aquatic sitatunga, Grant’s gazelle, the Uganda Kob, Oribi and Topi. Others include warthog, zebra, giraffe, hyena, edible rat, among others.