Queen Elizabeth National Park has outstanding wildlife attractions and this is the magnet that pulls tourists to Uganda. The park is home to 95 mammal species while the bird list is 612 species long. This diversity is the result of an impressive range of habitats. Fifty-seven vegetation types have been identified though these can be summarized as just five: forest; grassland; bushy grassland; Acacia woodland and lake shore/ swamp vegetation.
Residents of the park’s grasslands include elephant, Cape buffalo, Uganda kob, waterbuck, warthog, giant forest hog, lion, leopard and hyena. Topi are found in Ishasha, while forest primates are found in Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest.
In African protected areas, the park’s impressive bird list is exceeded only by the neighboring (and far larger) Virunga National Park.
To name but a few key species: martial eagle, black-rumped buttonquail, African skimmer, Chapin’s flycatcher, pink-backed pelicans, white-winged warbler, papyrus gonolek, papyrus canary, corncrake, lesser and greater flamingo, and shoebill stork.
With an astonishing 5000 hippos, 2500 elephants and over 10,000 buffalo thriving in its grasslands and shorelines, Queen Elizabeth National Park guarantees sightings of some of Africa’s most iconic
species. The hippos spend their days escaping the burning equatorial sunshine in the cool waters of the park’s lakes and channels, before setting off across the savannah at dusk to munch their way through up
to 50kg of vegetation before sunrise. Elephants, too, congregate around the waterways, but these huge, hungry creatures, standing up to 3.5 metres tall and weighing up to 6000kg need to wander far and wide in search of vegetation to sustain them. Families of 10-15 individuals, and in some cases many more, wade across swamps and trample through forests, and their loud calls can be heard resonating across the crater filled valleys.
Other common herbivores include warthogs, waterbuck, Uganda kob and topi, as well as the shy sitatunga antelope.
Listings of Uganda’s Wildlife
Here you can learn about all your favorite animals, and even some you may have never heard of! Follow the links below to learn about some of the wildlife found in Uganda. I have tried to include interesting facts and behavioral information with the hopes that people planning safaris will realize that the cats are not the ONLY interesting animals out there!
You will be richly rewarded if you spend some time watching herds of antelopes to try to determine dominance hierarchies, watching mixed groupings of animals to see the ways that they interact cross-species, and even watching a grouping (called a “tower”) of giraffes to see if you can determine genders just by observing where they are feeding in the acacia trees.
In many of the animal accounts, the basic information is at the beginning presented in an informal way. For those wanting to go a bit deeper into the behaviors, read down in the “Detailed Information” section, which has a lot of information from The Behavior Guide to African Mammals and a few other sources, all referenced in the text.
- African Elephant
- Banded Mongoose
- Black-and-White Colobus Monkey
- Cape Buffalo
- Rothschild’s Giraffe
- Spotted Hyaena
- Uganda Kob
- Vervet Monkey
Much of the technical information about the animals came from an incredible resource written by Richard Estes. This book is a must if you want to dive more deeply into the behaviors of African wildlife:
Estes, R. (1991). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press.
The rest of the information is from my own observations, information shared with me by guides at various national parks, and the occasional website. Many of the photos are mine, such as the ones on this page. If you notice one in the animal accounts that really catches your attention, it is probably from the amazing collection.