THE PRIMATES OF UGANDA

Uganda could be considered “a prime primate destination” in East Africa as it is home to 20 different species of primates (14 diurnal and 6 nocturnal). These can be found in the forest and savanna parks around the land of contrasts and colors. This has set the country apart from its neighbors in terms of the variety of primate species. The primates of Uganda are highlighted by Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. In this highlight, we mention places and what primates you can find there.

The western part of the “Pearl of Africa” whose biggest part is also in the western arm of the Great Rift Valley neighbors DR Congo where the Congo forest meets the East African savanna via the Semliki National park. The area has got the highest concentration of parks and most primate safaris run to this side of Uganda.

In the mid-west, north of Queen Elizabeth National Park, the iconic Kibale Forest National Park hosts an impressive list of 13 primate species. It is the park with the highest concentration of primates. This gave it the tagline “Primate capital of the world”. The park sits on the backdrop of the Rwenzori and it houses 1/3 of the population of chimpanzees in Uganda. Here troops of habituated chimpanzees are visited daily in 2 sessions (8.00 am and 2.00 pm). The nights are given for night nature walks for those interested in the nocturnal primates.

Bushbaby/Galago at Kibale Forest

Further west of Kibale forest, the Semliki Forest on the hot floor of the rift valley, joins the Congo forest to the East African savanna and is also home to several primates and special birds. The species at Kibale Forest are the Eastern Chimpanzees, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys, L’Hoest monkeys, Vervet monkeys, Olive baboons, Blue monkeys, Grey Cheeked Mangabey, Uganda Red Colobus, Demidoff’s Galagos, Pottos, Patas monkeys, and Ugandan Mangabey.

South of Kibale forest, Queen Elizabeth national park’s Kyambura gorge hosts the only habituated chimpanzee community in the park. The strip of riparian forest in the 100m deep river gorge is confined and makes it easier to locate the chimpanzees by sounds. The Black and white colobus monkey, Vervet monkey, and olive baboons are residents here. The Red-tailed monkey is a less visible resident here. The Maramagambo forest that is between the northern and southern parts of Queen Elizabeth national park supports a rich selection of not only birds but also primates like chimpanzees, Red-tailed and L’Hoest monkeys, and pottos.

Black and White colobus monkeys- These lack a thumb that is why they are called Colobus that is from a Greek word for Mutilated

The Kalinzu Forest alongside the Kasese Ishaka, 35km south of Katunguru, is Uganda’s most reliable chimpanzee tracking and 2nd best option after the Kibale forest. Chimpanzees are the main drawcard here but the forest has other seven primates that include 5 diurnal species that include the Olive baboons, Black and white colobus, Red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, and L’Hoest monkey. These are along the Potto and 2 other Galago species. Usually, budget-conscious travelers track the chimpanzees of the medium-altitude forest chimpanzees here.

KALINZU FOREST RESERVE
Kalinzu Forest

In the southwest corner, the two forests parks of Bwindi Impenetrable and Mgahinga Gorilla national parks host the most iconic and vulnerable primates- Mountain Gorillas. The Bwindi impenetrable national park is a renowned gorilla tracking destination in Uganda/East Africa and hosts the largest population of these great apes amongst all the 4 parks that are home to the gorillas.

The forest (Bwindi) is home to other 10 primate species and these are Chimpanzees (not commonly seen) but recorded, L’Hoest monkeys, De Brazza’s monkey, Red-tailed monkeys, Black and white colobus monkeys, Blue monkeys, Potto, Demidoff’s Galago, spectacled Galago, and baboons.

On the other hand, Mgahinga Gorilla national park is famous for mountain gorillas and Golden monkeys which are the highlights, hence its tag line “Where Gold meets Silver” because of the silverback gorillas and golden monkeys. The Golden monkeys live in the shadows of the mountain gorillas but are amazing primates. They are the next big thing at Mgahinga after the gorillas.

Best Places for Golden monkey tracking
Golden Monkey

The savanna parks, host primates that are used to the conditions here, and the Vervet and Patas Monkeys and olive baboons are common and can be seen on game drives.

List of primate species in Uganda

  • Mountain gorillas
  • Chimpanzees
  • Golden monkeys
  • Olive baboons
  • Black and white colobus monkeys
  • Blue monkeys
  • De Brazza’s monkeys
  • Grey-cheeked Mangabey
  • L’Hoest monkeys
  • Red-tailed monkeys
  • Patas monkeys
  • Vervet monkeys
  • Red colobus monkeys
  • Dents’ monkeys
  • Mona monkeys
  • Owl faced monkeys
  • Bushbabies/Galagos
  • Pottos
  • Rwenzori colobus monkeys (A subspecies’ of the Angola colobus)

If you have great love there is abundance in Uganda and it is more than just the always highlighted mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. You can book your all primate safari today or a combined primate and other game safaris to the land of contrasts. 

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