Exploring the Amazing Wildlife of Uganda

Uganda is a wildlife wonderland and offers a truly unforgettable safari experience. Home to an incredible variety of animals, including leopards, hippos, giraffes, and more, Uganda is a destination for those who want to witness the raw beauty of Africa’s fauna in its natural habitat. Dotted with lush, verdant landscapes and sprawling national parks, the country is an ideal destination for travelers looking for an unforgettable African experience. Whether you’re an avid photographer looking to capture nature’s splendor in pictures, or just an animal lover in search of a unique experience, Uganda’s amazing wildlife should definitely make it onto your list.

Why Go to See Animals In Uganda

In Uganda, there is an abundance of marvellous animals that draw in wildlife enthusiasts from all around the globe. This African nation is home to 10 national parks, 12 wildlife reserves, 5 community wildlife management areas, and 13 wildlife sanctuaries, making it one of the most biodiverse countries in the continent. It is estimated that nearly 345 species of mammals and 1,000 species of birds live within these protected areas. This includes many endangered species like mountain gorillas, which make Uganda the perfect destination for nature lovers and wildlife photographers alike.

There are various thrilling ways to observe and appreciate the local wildlife during a trip to Uganda. In addition to a traditional game drive in a car with a pop-up roof, visitors can also take part in horseback safaris, river cruises, mountain hikes, primate habituation experiences, or forest treks. All of these activities provide visitors with the opportunity to witness some of the world’s most majestic creatures in their natural habitats.

1. Mountain Gorillas

Uganda is renowned for its incredible selection of animals, particularly primates. Mountain gorillas, one of the world’s rarest species, can still be found in the wilds of Uganda. As humans expand more and more into their natural habitat and poachers continue to threaten their lives, the population of these endangered animals has decreased drastically. However, there is growing hope for the conservation of these majestic creatures. Awareness of their plight has grown and various conservation efforts have been made, leading to a rise in their number.

Visitors can experience the thrill of trekking up mountains to see these rare primates. Though it is a costly experience, the money goes towards the conservation and protection of their future. With the chance to see such magnificent creatures and the knowledge that you’re helping to secure their safety, a Ugandan safari to view the mountain gorillas is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Where to see gorillas in Uganda

The best place to observe Uganda’s incredible gorillas is Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. At Bwindi, there are four distinct gorilla trekking locations: Buhoma, Ruhija, Rushaga, and Nkuringo. Permits vary depending on personal preferences and availability, but the price remains the same. Buhoma is the most popular due to its easy accessibility, but each sector offers an unforgettable encounter with these fascinating animals. Visitors should be prepared to hike up the mountains to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

2. Chimpanzees

Gorilla trekking in Uganda is an exhilarating experience and one of the main attractions of the country. However, visitors should not forget about the chance to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat as well. Chimpanzees share almost 99% of our DNA and are known for their intelligence and social behavior. Approximately 5,000 chimpanzees can be found in Uganda and many of them have been habituated to humans thanks to the careful work of scientists. This allows tourists to witness these incredible animals up close without scaring them away. Seeing chimpanzees in their own environment is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed on any Ugandan safari.

Where to see gorillas in Uganda

For those looking to see chimpanzees in Uganda, Kibale Forest is the best destination. Home to an estimated 1500 chimpanzees, the forest offers the most sightings. However, visitors can also catch a glimpse of these primates at Kalinzu Forest and Kyambura Gorge near Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest (Murchison Falls National Park), and Semuliki Wildlife Reserve.

3. Black & White Colobus Monkey

Uganda is an ideal destination for avid wildlife-seekers, boasting 18 species of primates, including the iconic black-and-white and red colobus monkey, blue monkey, red-tailed monkey, L’Hoest’s, de Brazza’s, vervet and golden monkey, as well as smaller nocturnal species like the bushbaby and potto. The highlight for many visitors is viewing the chimpanzees, with Kibale Forest offering the most sightings due to its estimated 1500 primates. Additionally, Kalinzu Forest, Kyambura Gorge near Queen Elizabeth National Park, Budongo Forest (Murchison Falls National Park) and Semuliki Wildlife Reserve also provide glorious glimpses of these incredible creatures.

Where to see monkeys in Uganda

Uganda offers a plethora of primate species for visitors to observe, making it a popular destination for wildlife-watchers. From black-and-white and red colobus monkeys to blue, red-tailed monkeys, L’Hoest’s, de Brazza’s, vervet and golden monkeys, as well as bushbaby and potto, travelers are sure to encounter a variety of animals during their trip. Kibale Forest is dubbed the primate capital of Uganda and is the perfect spot for catching a glimpse of some of these primates, while Queen Elizabeth National Park, Bwindi and the other smaller forested parks are also ideal locations to observe these marvelous creatures.

4. African Lion

The lion (Panthera leo) is one of the most majestic and captivating animals on a Ugandan safari, oftentimes referred to as one of the ‘Big Five’. Seeing a pride on the hunt is an unforgettable experience, and the second most popular Ugandan animal after the mountain gorilla. Furthermore, a recent study revealed that a single lion in Queen Elizabeth National Park can generate approximately US$ 13,500 annually in tourism revenue.

Where to see lions in Uganda

For those seeking out the ultimate lion experience, Uganda offers a host of prime national parks. In Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Ishasha sector is infamous for its tree-climbing lions–a rare phenomenon that can be observed in few other places. Similarly, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Parks are known for their resident lions, while sightings in Lake Mburo and Semliki Wildlife Reserve are more sporadic yet still possible. Not only are tree-top lions easier to spot and photograph, but they also rest in the treetops for much of the day, making for an incredible opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

5. African Leopard

In Uganda, the elusive African leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) is a captivating sight to behold. However, due to its solitary nature and preference for nocturnal activity, actually spotting one can be quite a challenge. Unlike their lion counterparts, these solitary cats tend to rest in low-visibility areas, such as trees, caves, and long grass, aided by their stunning spotted coats which act as effective camouflage. While the difficulty of catching sight of one of these remarkable creatures can be disheartening, when luck strikes and you finally do spot a leopard, it’s an unforgettable experience.

Where to see leopards in Uganda

As one of the most thrilling experiences Uganda has to offer, catching a glimpse of an African leopard is an unforgettable sight. While their solitary nature and preference for nocturnal activity make them a notoriously difficult animal to spot, there is still a chance to see one in some of Uganda’s national parks. Calling Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Kidepo and Semiliki National Parks home, visitors are advised to equip themselves with patience and wax up their binoculars. With luck, a leopard can be found resting in a tree or in some low-visibility area, making for an amazing moment.

6. Spotted Hyena

The Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is a common large carnivore native to sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated population in the region ranging from 27,000 to 47,000 individuals. These nocturnal predators are highly successful due to their omnivorous diet and ability to hunt in packs of up to five individuals. They are also known for their distinctive laughter-like calls, which can be heard up to three miles away, and for their incredible speed – capable of reaching up to 60km per hour in pursuit of prey. On a Uganda safari, your chances of seeing a Spotted Hyena are relatively high, making it an unforgettable experience for any visitor.

Where to see spotted hyenas in Uganda

For an up-close encounter with Uganda’s wildlife, a trip to one of its many national parks is essential. Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls and Kidepo National Parks are all excellent locations for viewing the nation’s majestic leopards, and offer travelers the best chance to catch a glimpse of these fascinating creatures.

7. African Elephant

Uganda is a coveted destination for wildlife-lovers from all corners of the world, particularly those hoping to get a close glimpse of the nation’s majestic elephants. Savanna and forest elephants can both be found throughout the land, and their remarkable size, life span and intelligence make for an unforgettable encounter.

Unfortunately, poaching has caused a substantial decrease in elephant population over the years, dropping from an estimated 30,000 in the 1960s to startlingly low numbers of around 2,000 by the 1980s. Thankfully, conservation efforts have afterwards managed to slightly increase the population to an estimated 5,000 today. Despite this, the recovery of elephants will be a long-term process, as female elephants have a calf approximately every nine years.

Where to see elephants in Uganda

Uganda offers a spectacular opportunity to observe its iconic elephants in the wild. In Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, visitors can expect to see anywhere from twenty to one hundred of these animals.

Kidepo National Park is home to savanna elephants, while Bwindi and Kibale Forests provide sanctuary to the more elusive forest elephants, though they are certainly a more challenging species to spot. Watching these animals in their natural habitat is a truly mesmerizing experience and an unforgettable part of a Ugandan safari.

8. Southern White Rhinoceros

Uganda is home to the Southern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum), a subspecies of the white rhino. These animals possess horns highly coveted for its medicinal properties and thus rendering them heavily poached in the past.

Although the designation of “white” and “black” for these animals is quite literal, the name “white” is thought to have derived from the Afrikaans word “wyd” which translates to “wide” in reference to its wide and square top lip.

Sadly, these rhinos were declared extinct in 1983 due to heavy poaching, yet, with the help of a sanctuary and breeding program, they were able to successfully reintroduce 22 of these majestic creatures to the wild in 1997. This project has resulted in a success, and the sanctuary continues to be home to these animals up until this day.

Where to see rhinos in Uganda

For an up-close experience with rhinos, Uganda’s Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to take a guided walk and get within an astonishingly close proximity to both adult and baby rhinos. Additionally, two rhinos can also be found at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. Here, visitors can witness these enormous, yet gentle and peaceful creatures in their natural habitat and truly take in the wonders of Uganda’s wildlife.

9. Hippopotamus

Uganda’s many rivers and lakes make it the perfect environment for hippos (Hippopotamus amphibious)–the second largest land mammal after elephants. Despite its relation to whales and dolphins, these semi-aquatic creatures are unable to float or swim; they instead walk or bounce along the bottom of rivers and can stay submerged for up to six minutes without taking a breath.

During the blazing hot days, they remain in the water to protect their skin from the scorching sun, and come out on land to graze at night. Hippos are incredibly fascinating animals to observe, and their appearance is sure to make for a memorable experience on a Ugandan safari. That said, one must be wary when encountering these creatures, as they are one of the most dangerous animals on land, capable of charging speeds of up to 40 km per hour.

It goes without saying that one should always keep a safe distance if they come across a hippo in the wild. To spot, they also tend to remain perched for much of the day, which could provide photo-opportunities for the adventurer some. So if you’re lucky enough, you’ll be able to capture the amazing image of a lion atop a tree.

Where to see hippos in Uganda

For an up-close view of Uganda’s remarkable hippos, visitors are advised to take boat trips, a great way to the see the animals in their natural habitat. In Murchison Falls Park, a River Nile Boat Safari offers an unbeatable view of the hippos in action, while a boat ride on Lake Mburo or the Kazinga Channel boat ride in Queen Elizabeth National Park is also recommended.

For an even more adventurous experience, the Semliki Wildlife Reserve offers captivating boat rides down the Semliki River and into Lake Albert, where one might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hippo wandering through the wilderness.

10. Rothschild Giraffe

Uganda’s iconic tallest-of-all-mammals, the giraffe, can only be found in the nation and neighboring Kenya. Referred to as the Rothschild’s giraffe (Giraffa Camelopardalis rothschildi), Uganda’s particular species of giraffe is distinct for its dark, less sharply defined patches and unmarked lower legs.

Endowed with a gentle and graceful quality, these animals can be seen peacefully roaming in same-sex herds made up of either related females with their young or unrelated adult males, although they will fiercely defend themselves against any predators, such as the lions, hyenas, and leopards that they may meet in their path.

Moreover, male giraffes demonstrate their dominance and gain access to females by engaging in physical competitions, typically involving the use of their mighty heads and necks.

Where to see giraffes in Uganda

Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park offers an unparalleled experience for wildlife-lovers and giraffe-fans alike, as it is home to over one thousand of these graceful giants. Kidepo Valley and Lake Mburo National Park, similarly, provide haven to more than fifty and fifteen of these animals respectively. Unfortunately, Queen Elizabeth National Park, however, does not host a giraffe population.

For those die-hard admirers of these creatures, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is the ultimate destination. The center offers the delightful opportunity to get up close and personal through the Behind the Scenes tour, allowing visitors to even feed these captivating animals, a moment sure to be remembered for a lifetime.

11. African Buffalo

Widely considered one of Uganda’s most dangerous animals, the African or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer) is characterized by an intimidating size as well as an aggressive and unpredictable behavior. As proof of this, African buffalo trample or gore about 200 people in Africa every year, thus explaining why it has never been domesticated unlike its gentler Asian cousin, the water buffalo.

Typically, African buffaloes live in herds of hundreds, and though they can be feisty, they run in a surprisingly democratic manner. When the herd is ready to move, they all face in the direction they aspire to go. Ultimately, whichever way the most votes are directed, will become the herd’s path to follow.

Despite its formidable reputation, one need not necessarily worry about the possibility of encountering a buffalo in the wild. They never wander too far from bodies of water, namely Uganda’s many rivers and lakes. As such, these animals normally take to wallowing in the sun during the day, and graze during the cooler nighttime hours.

Where to see buffalo in Uganda

For an up-close experience with the African or Cape buffalo (Syncerus caffer), a boat ride on the Kazinga Channel of Queen Elizabeth National Park is highly recommended, for this is often where these awe-inspiring creatures congregate.

Additionally, Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo are both similarly home to these remarkable animals. It is even possible for guests staying in safari tents within one of the parks to have an unexpected, albeit thrilling experience of witnessing these creatures wander through their camps at night. With that in mind, one should always keep a vigilant watch when in their presence.

12. Zebra

Uganda’s Plains zebras (Equus Quagga) are the most recognized for their unique pattern of black and white stripes, allowing individuals to easily identify one another. Sadly, their numbers have decreased drastically due to climate change affecting their food sources, leaving only roughly three thousand remaining.

Despite this alarming reality, the zebras remain a fan-favorite, and continue to captivate even the most seasoned of wildlife enthusiasts. These strikingly dizzying patterns of stripes serve not only as identification for their species, but also serve to deter predators with their unique pattern and repel pesky insects. Being a social animal, the zebras typically inhabit large herds though they are easily startled and will run away when humans get too close.

Where to see zebras in Uganda

Uganda is home to two main parks inhabited by zebras: Kidepo Valley in the north and Lake Mburo in the west. The choice of these two is fairly logical, as the areas feature open plains and less foliage, allowing the zebras to spot potential predators sooner and give themselves time to rapidly flee. Outside of these two parks, one may also encounter a few zebras at the nearby Katonga Wildlife Reserve near Kampala, and on Kyahugye Island Wildlife Reserve in Lake Bunyonyi.

13. Uganda Kob – The National Animal Of Uganda

The Uganda kob (Kobus kob thomasi) is a species of antelope inhabiting the Sub-Saharan Africa and proudly serves as the national animal of Uganda, prominently displayed on the country’s coat of arms. These animals travel in small herds, which on occasion can gather in groups of up to one thousand, though the number is increasingly put under pressure due to the effects of farming.

In Uganda, the Ugandan Kob is one of the primary sources of food for countless predators, such as lions, leopards, and hyenas. They are distinctive for their ability to whistle, which is both employed to mark their territory and to attract potential mates during courtship.

Where to see Kob in Uganda

The Uganda Kob (Kobus kob thomasi) can be easily spotted in Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Parks, among many other areas, as they are an abundant species in the area.

14. Common Warthog

Warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus) are most recognizable thanks to their amplified presence in popular culture after their introduction via Disney’s beloved character, Pumbaa, in The Lion King. However, their endearment transcends the mere entertainment value, for these creatures also have much to astonish viewers in real life. With their skinny legs and tails primed upright in the air, their movements appear almost whimsical.

Despite the humorous appearance, the warthogs are not one to mess with. Though their preferred method of defence is to sprint away, they sport sharp tusks which, at times, have even been known to kill lions. These animals are omnivorous, feasting on a diverse array of items ranging from grass, insects, eggs, fruit, bark, and roots, to fungi and carrion. Moreover, warthogs nestle inside burrows of other creatures though they will occasionally put their front feet and tusks to use and dig their own.

Where to see warthogs in Uganda

Uganda’s National Parks, namely Murchison Falls and Queen Elizabeth, as well as many other destinations, make for perfect wildlife watching spots. This area serves as the ideal habitat for warthogs (Phacochoerus africanus), which can be easily spotted due to their humorous appearance and behavior – from their skinny legs to their erect tails – though one should always be mindful of their ability to fiercely defend themselves with their sharp tusks if threatened. I myself have had the fortune of having a very close encounter with these animals.

15. Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) are renowned for their heightened predatory aggression, as they hunt primarily birds, fish, and smaller mammals. This potential to produce havoc reaches far, beyond the underwater world – they are also considered the most lethal predator of humans, responsible for hundreds of deaths and injuries each year, more so than even lions and sharks.

Additionally, Nile Crocodiles attack regardless of provocation and moreover, their presence often coincides with human contact. Out of all creatures accepted to cause human casualties, snakes are ranked first, but only in the context of self-defense, followed by those carrying parasites like rats and mosquitoes.

Where to see crocodiles in Uganda

Seeing Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) in Uganda can be safely done by taking part in a boat trip, either on the Nile at Murchison Falls or along the Kazinga Channel of Queen Elizabeth National Park or, for a slightly different experience, Lake Mburo. Taking precautions when in close proximity of these animals is highly advised, as they are known to be an overwhelmingly aggressive species.

16. Uganda Birds

Uganda has many beautiful birds and is especially known for its large variety of species of birds of prey. You can find eagles, vultures, hawks, kites, and owls in abundance here – all hunting animals like the Uganda kob, impala, and warthogs based on their skill and size.

Also look out for the Ground Hornbills of Murchison Falls, large and showy birds that dance around their prey, or the Blue-headed Coucal Of Kibale National Park, a vibrant bird found mostly in the dense rainforest and undergrowth. In the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, you may be fortunate enough to spot the rare Tool-using Green Broadbill, one of the few species of birds capable of shaping sticks with its beak to retrieve out-of-reach food!
Uganda is a paradise for those passionate about bird-watching, as the country boasts an immense variety of avian species, particularly in regards of birds of prey. Eagles, vultures, hawks, kites, and owls all grace the skies of this area, successfully hunting small- to mid-sized animals such as the Uganda kob, warthog and impala.

Moreover, this protected land also provides an ideal refuge for certain singular species. One such example are the Ground Hornbill of Murchison Falls, whose lively courtship involves a remarkable display of dancing around their prey. Elsewhere, the vivid blue of the Blue-headed Coucal of Kibale National Park beautifies the backdrop of the dense rainforest and undergrowth, while the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park serves as the habitation of the rare Tool-using Green Broadbill, a species known for its proclivity in manipulating sticks with its beak to encounter out-of-reach food.


Uganda is a wildlife-lovers paradise, home to some of the world’s most impressive animal species. From Uganda kobs, to zebras, warthogs, Nile Crocodiles, and a variety of beautiful birds, the country is a haven for those seeking to appreciate nature and all its flaws. Guided trips, such as boat launches along the Nile or the Kazinga Channel, offer the perfect opportunity for respectful wildlife viewing and make for a wonderful experience. Furthermore, staying aware of the need for preservation and conservation is ever-important in sustaining the biodiversity of this remarkable land.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please select listing to show.