Uganda the pearl of Africa is truly gifted by nature with a great wildlife diversity that fascinates all the tourists who visit the country for wildlife safaris forcing them to visit the country again. In 2012, Uganda was ranked by lonely planet as the most preferred tourist destination because of the unique wildlife species, cultures, hospitality of the people, local art and crafts that the pearl of Africa offers.
Most of Uganda’s wildlife species are located in the country’s 10 major national parks that can be easily accessed by road and air transport and are evenly distributed country wide giving one a chance to explore the country. Below are the major wildlife species that one cannot definitely miss on a visit to Uganda
The Big Five Mammals
Uganda’s big five mammals include lions, elephants, buffaloes, rhinos and leopards. These untamed mammals are called the big five not only because of their mega sizes but also because of the struggle and adventurous expedition’s tourists go through when tracking them. The big five mammals can all be found in Murchison falls conservation area with the elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards within the park’s proximity and the rhinos at the Zziwa rhino sanctuary located in Nakasongola district en route to Murchison falls national park.
Lions in Uganda can also be found in Queen Elizabeth national park in the Ishasha – lions here have unique and rare characteristics of climbing trees. Kidepo valley national park, Semuliki national park and Lake Mburo national park also have lions. This most feared animal and king of the jungle can be best viewed by tourists on a safari in any of the mentioned national parks.
The buffaloes are strong animals that entirely feed on grass. They are included in the big five because they are dangerous animals and have unique defensive techniques against their predators. Apart from Murchison falls national park, buffaloes can also be viewed in Kidepo valley national park, lake Mburo national park and Queen Elizabeth national park.
Ugandan leopards are night time hunters that most times explore the Ugandan wilderness when it gets dark.They are rarely seen by tourists who do wildlife safaris during the day; therefore all those interested in seeing these marvelous cats can go for night game drives especially in Queen Elizabeth national park. Other national parks with leopards besides Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks include Kibale forest national park, Mgahinga national park, Kidepo valley national park and Lake Mburo national park. Lucky tourists can also land on the leopards very early in the morning.
Elephants which are very sensitive animals with a nose that can detect water in 20 miles and with the largest brain among all mammals are also part of the big five mammals in Uganda. Elephants in Uganda are of two major types; forest elephants and savanna elephants and are most times called African elephants because their ears have a shape of an African continent map. They are one of the strongest animals in the Ugandan wild that most times communicate while trampling. Surprisingly, these enormous animals are threatened and scared by bees. Elephants can be found in all national parks in Uganda except Lake Mburo national park but can be best viewed by tourists on a wildlife safari in Kidepo valley, Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth national parks.
They are endangered mammals with 94.5% DNA similar to human beings found in Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga gorilla national parks in south western Uganda. Today, the mountain gorillas can only be found in three countries on the planet that is Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo; however the good news is that half of these gorillas are in Uganda’s two gorilla parks where they can be best viewed in their natural habitats. Mountain gorillas live in groups each group headed by a male gorilla (silverback). Gorillas are the largest ape species and are very dangerous if intruded or disturbed by any one.
All the tourists interested in having gorilla safaris in Uganda should make early bookings because only 80 gorilla permits are issued to tourists to trek the 10 habituated gorillas groups in Uganda. Each gorilla group is tracked by eight tourists a day to minimize tourist impacts on behavioral changes of the untamed wild animals and to also reduce disease spread possibilities. Gorilla permits can be got at the Uganda wildlife authority offices in Kampala or from trusted tour operators
These are both terrestrial and aquatic animals that are very common in Queen Elizabeth national park especially around the Kazinga channel and also in Murchison falls national park around the river banks of the Nile River. Hippos are the second largest land mammals after elephants and also mostly feed on grass. They are very amazing animals though dangerous. A view of a hippo either in water or on land gives on a remarkable experience that can not be easily forgotten therefore all tourists to Uganda on a wildlife safari should not miss out on these incredible animals.
They are the closest primates to human beings with about 98% DNA similar to humans and can be found in the rain forests of Kibale national park, Bwindi impenetrable forest, and Mgahinga national park as well as at Ngamba Island in Lake Victoria at the chimpanzee sanctuary. Just like mountain gorillas, the chimpanzees also live and move in groups in the forest canopies searching for food. They mainly feed on forest fruits and leaves.
Uganda is a bird’s haven with over 2,000 different bird species some of which are endemic to the country (fox’s weaver). most of the birds in Uganda can be got in the major swamps, national parks, forests, on lake shores and river banks while others can be viewed exploring the Ugandan airspace as the enjoy the cool humid temperatures of the pearl of Africa. Uganda’s birds can be seen in any wildlife safari destination for example, Murchison falls national park has the rare shoebill stork, African jacana, the grey crowned crane, blue napped moosebird, sacred ibis, African fish eagle, silver bird, African skimmers, herons, owls and many others. Most of these birds can be seen on the river Nile banks especially the African fish eagle, shoebill stork, the grey crowned cranes and many others. Other major outstanding birding destinations in Uganda include Kibale forest national park, Semuliki national park and Rwenzori national park which have Albertine endemic wildlife species like the Rwenzori Turaco, blue headed sun bird and shot tailed warblers.
Other major wild animals that one can view on a wildlife safari in Uganda include the river Nile crocodiles, warthogs, impalas, Sitatungas, zebras, giraffes, snakes, Uganda kob, primates like L’Hoest monkeys, baboons and many others.
Wildlife safaris can be done in Uganda at any time of the year with the help of Go Africa Safaris who are leading operators of most successful tourist safari expeditions in Uganda with well trained tour guides and drivers with enough concrete information on Uganda’s wild animals.