Uganda is home to 20 primate species within different national parks containing the highest density in all of Africa with a total of 13 including the Dwarf Galago. As well as the chimpanzee and gorilla, the black-and-white colobus, red-tailed monkey, grey-cheeked mangabey, l’Hoest’s and blue monkeys, and olive baboons can be seen during game drives, launch trips or nature walks, along with smaller nocturnal species such as the bush baby and potto.
Mgahinga National Park also contains one of the last remaining habitats of the endangered golden monkey. Black-and-white colobus monkeys are among the most frequently spotted species, as, unlike other primates, they are lacking thumbs. The troops of 5-10 individuals are easily seen in the branches as a result of their striking coloring – black with long white hair running from the shoulders to rump, and white tufts at the ends of their long tails. Infants are born pure white.
The dog-like baboons live in large groups and are regularly seen along roadsides where they wait to ambush cars in search of food. They spend more time on the ground than most other primate species, but sleep in trees at night. If water is scarce, they can survive for long periods by licking the dew from their fur.
- Black-and-white colobus monkey
This primate that lacks thumbs. The deformity makes it vulnerable to accidents, especially while making sky jumps. Babies are born white and they change color at three months. These monkeys’ preference for young leaves, with a daily intake of 2-3 kilograms, makes them easy to find along the forest edges in Uganda.
- Ugandan red colobus monkey
With males weighing up to 13 kilograms and females up to 9 kilograms, these monkeys will fight to defend their territory against intruders and predators, such as the African crown eagle, mountain buzzards and chimpanzees. It’s commonly found in Kibale Forest National Park and Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary.
- Ugandan red-tailed monkey and blue monkey
They are one of the smallest monkeys with white hairy cheeks and a white heart-shaped nose. They can be found in Kibale, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Parks. The blue monkeys are not necessarily blue, but mostly black with a blue-grey or silver-grey back.
- Golden monkey
Did you know that golden monkeys are endemic to the Virunga massif? This is a large geographical area that contains a chain of eight volcanoes that span three countries, including Uganda’s Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Golden monkeys prefer to move and sleep high in the bamboo forests.
- Grey-cheeked mangabey
Commonly seen at Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Kibale Forest, Semliki Wildlife Reserve and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, mangabeys have specialised cheek pouches enabling them to quickly fill up their mouths as they forage for food. Mangabeys communicate by slapping their lips together while shaking their heads.
- Olive baboon
They are probably Africa’s most destructive animals to human crops. Baboons and mangabeys have dog-like snouts, though baboons prefer to move on the ground while mangabeys stay up high in the tree branches.
- Patas monkey
Patas monkeys live in big troupes of between 30 to 50 individuals. The chances are high to see these monkeys in their hundreds on a game drive while in Murchison Falls National Park.
- L’hoest monkey
These are shy, terrestrial monkeys who are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN list. It’s common to find group members bonding with the young and grooming each other along forest trails in Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest Park.
These primates are the closest to humans, sharing 98.7% of our DNA. Uganda’s Kibale Forest National Park probably offers the highest concentration of chimpanzees in the region. Spend a day with the chimpanzees to see how they bang tree stems to communicate with each other
The chimpanzee, also known as the common chimpanzee, robust chimpanzee, or simply “chimp”, is a species of great ape native to the forests and savannahs of tropical Africa. It has four confirmed subspecies and a fifth proposed subspecies. The chimpanzee and the closely related bonobo (sometimes called the “pygmy chimpanzee”) are classified in the genus Pan.
The chimpanzee lives in groups that range in size from 15 to 150 members, although individuals travel and forage in much smaller groups during the day. The species lives in a strict male-dominated hierarchy, where disputes are generally settled without the need for violence. Nearly all chimpanzee populations have been recorded using tools, modifying sticks, rocks, grass and leaves and using them for hunting and acquiring honey, termites, ants, nuts and water. The species has also been found creating sharpened sticks to spear small mammals.
10. Mountain Gorillas
There are two populations: One is found in the Virunga volcanic mountains of Central Africa, within three National Parks: Mgahinga, in south-west Uganda; Volcanoes, in north-west Rwanda; and Virunga, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The other population is found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Some primatologists speculate the Bwindi population is a separate subspecies, though no description has been finalized.
The mountain gorilla inhabits the Albertine Rift montane cloud forests and the Virunga Volcanoes. Most are found on the slopes of three of the dormant volcanoes. The vegetation is very dense at the bottom of the mountains, becoming more sparse at higher elevations, and the forests where the mountain gorilla lives are often cloudy, misty, and cold.
The mountain gorilla is primarily a herbivore; the majority of its diet is composed of the leaves, shoots, and stems. It also feeds on bark, roots, flowers, and fruit, as well as small invertebrates. Adult males can eat up to 34 kilograms of vegetation a day, while a female can eat as much as 18 kilograms.
Would you like to see these primates on a Uganda safari adventure? Why not book a primate watching safari through the Pearl of Africa?