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Primates in Uganda

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Primates in Uganda

Uganda is a land locked country found in the East African region of Africa and she may not be the first country that comes to mind when you start planning an African wildlife experience, but it should certainly be at the top of your list if you are interested in primates. Uganda is simply Primate Paradise and there are several National Parks here that protect and conserve some of the world’s rarest and most endangered primates. Here you can lock eyes with a giant Silverback.

Mountain Gorilla.

Uganda is at the forefront of conservation efforts to save this critically endangered species, widely believed to be Man’s closest relative.   And there is good news!  The WWF reports that conservation efforts have resulted in an increase of the Mountain Gorilla population from 620 animals in 1989 to around 786 today.  Come and see them in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park on the edge of the Rift Valley, where about 320 of them live, including nine habituated groups which can be tracked on foot – the ultimate primate adventure.  There are also many other primate species here as well as Elephants, antelopes and hundreds of birds.

Chimpanzee

At Kibale National Park, one of the loveliest of Uganda’s protected areas you can go Chimpanzee trekking through the tropical rainforest and spot some of the other 10 primate species and the 374 recorded bird species that are found here.  You can even take part in the Chimpanzee Habituation project.

Gorillas, Chimps and other primates may be one of your main reasons for visiting Uganda’s National Parks, but it should certainly not be the only reason.  Queen Elizabeth National Park is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Rwenzori Mountains and offers classic big game viewing with a few surprises – this is one of the very few places in Africa where you can see tree-climbing Lions.

Apart from the above major 2 kinds of primates,Uganda is also home to various other primates like baboons and a variety of monkeys that can be also highlighted as below;

Baboons

Known by different sub- species names, baboons are unmistakable given their heavy build and dog-like faces and can be differentiated from other monkeys found in Uganda, and races differ only in superficial appearance. There are four types of baboons found in the sub-Saharan African of which only the olive baboon is found in Uganda. The other types of baboons that are not found in Uganda include Yellow baboons.

Baboons live in complex troops numbering between eight and 200 individuals. There is no dominant male as males frequently move between troops. Baboons are omnivorous. They forage openly in savannah-woodland for tubers, grasses, fruits insects and occasionally for small vertebrates. They are highly adaptable and for this reason they are the most widespread primate in Africa.

Baboons are the size of a large monkey with a shoulder height of 75cm, length of up to 160cm and body mass of between 25 to 45 kg. They are active during the day. They occur in all National Parks except the three montane ones and are also found in forest reserves.

In Uganda, baboons can be seen at Queen Elizabeth, Semiliki and Kibale National Parks, at Karuma wildlife reserves, Mabira forest reserve and at a few other conservation areas.

 Black and White Colobus monkey

 Unlike chimpanzees, the truly magnificent and unmistakable black and white colobus monkey spends most of its life in high forest canopy and rarely, if ever, visits the ground. It’s conspicuous because of its black-furred body which is off-set by remarkable white highlights; a facial fringe, a flowing ‘cloak’ and a tuft to its long tail.

‘Colobus’ derives from the Greek word for crippled for the primate has a useless stump in place of a thumb. This though doesn’t prevent it from making agile leaps through the canopy of up to 30m including very daring drops of up to 15metres, all of which are spectacular sights. It’s easily located by its frog-like croaking. It is probably the most widespread and common forest monkey in Uganda, and occurs in most sizeable forest patches and even in woodland.

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Primates in Uganda

Red Colobus monkey

 It has very few distinguishing features but it’s a relatively large monkey with a reddish-greyish coat and a slightly tufted crown. It’s sociable and community set up is of troops of 50 or more individuals.  These troops do not coexist but scatter.In Uganda,red colobus monkey can be seen at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Kibale and Semiliki National Parks, and at Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary where they are especially common.

Vervet Monkey

 Also known as the green savannah or grivet monkey, it is the most common monkey of the savannah and woodland although it’s associated with a variety of habitats. At least four species are in Uganda: the black-faced vervet, Naivasha vervet, Mara tantalus and Stuhlmann’s green monkey. Vervets are recognized by their grizzled grey hair and somber black faces fringed with white. They live in troops numbering up to 30 individuals. Males and females are physically of the same characteristics except for their distinctive bright blue scrotums-an important signal of status in the troop.

They are diurnal and forage for fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers, invertebrates and the occasional lizard or nestling. They grow up to 130cm long including the 60cm tail and weigh between 3.5 to 8 kg. They are very common and widespread in Uganda, even outside of National Parks, but they are absent from forest and afro- alpine habitats. In Queen Elizabeth, Semiliki and Kibale National Parks, they are seen.

 Patas Monkeys

It’s a terrestrial primate restricted to dry savannah of north-central Africa. The race found in Uganda is the Nile Patas since they are believed to have their origin in areas around the great river Nile. They can easily be confused with vervet monkeys except that it’s lankier, has a reddish- brown coat and a distinctive black stripe above the eyes whereas the Vervet is greyer and has a black face. In Uganda, it is restricted to the extreme north and can be seen at Murchison Falls and Kidepo valley National Park.

Blue Monkey

 It’s also known by other names such as gentle monkey, samango monkey, diademed guenon and white- throated guenon. Similarly, the Vervet Monkey is slightly larger and much darker. Blue monkeys have blue – to –grey coats, black-grey faces with black shoulders, limbs and tail. They are common in most Ugandan forests. They are more arboreal than Vervet Monkeys and they feed largely on foliage, fruits, bark, gum and leaves. Social groups may be as large as 30 but generally number between four and twelve. They are gregarious and usually associate with other primates.They measure about 140 cm of which 80 cm is tail and weigh from 8 to 10kg. Blue Monkeys are active during the day but often difficult to see among the foliage.

However, except for Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo National Parks, Blue Monkey occurs in the rest of Uganda’s parks and in almost every other forest in the country. They are easy to see at Queen Elizabeth, Kibale and Semiliki National Parks.

L’Hoest’s Monkey

It is a handsome guenon with a black face and white whiskers that partially cover its ears and habitually carries its tail in an upright position, a peculiar habit exclusive to it among guenons. It is difficult to see because of its preference for dense secondary forest and its terrestrial habits but in Uganda, L’Hoest’s monkey is likely to be seen in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kibale, Bwindi or Maramagambo Forest.

De Brazza’s Monkey

 It is thick in build, has a hairy face with a reddish-brown patch around its eyes, distinctive white band across its brow, white moustache and beard and a relatively short tail. It’s much localized in East Africa, and is most likely to be seen in the confines of Mount Elgon and Semiliki National Parks.

Red-tailed Monkey

It has a brownish coat, white cheek whiskers, a coppery tail and a distinctive white, heart-shaped patch on its nose. It is widespread in forested habitats. Red-tailed monkeys live in flexible communities which swell into groups of up to 200 members, break up to smaller family units, sometimes to pairs and at others to just a single individual. They associate with other monkeys and regularly interbreed in the Kibale Forest besides which they also are found in Bwindi, Queen Elizabeth and Semiliki National Parks, as well as Budongo, Mpanga and several other forest reserves.

Grey-cheeked Mangabey

 It is a greyish-black monkey, with a shaggier coat than that of other guenons. Has light-grey cheeks and a subtle mane. They have a preference for lowland and mid altitude forests. In Uganda, Kibale Forest and Semiliki National Park is where they are likely to be seen because here they are common.

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ARON WISHLEY Founder & Director

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JOHN FALMI Head Manager