Mammals of Uganda
Information and official checklist of mammals found in Uganda
The official checklist of mammals found in Uganda numbers 342 species, with both west and East African mammals being well represented. Using the same distinction between small and large mammals as that of the checklist, 132 of the species recorded in Uganda can be classified as large mammals and the remainder are small mammals, the latter group comprising 94 bat species, 70 rats and mice, 33 shrews and otter shrews, eight gerbils, four elephant shrews and a solitary golden mole.
We bring you an overview of the large mammal species known to occur in Uganda – primates, carnivores, and herbivores. Several useful field guides to African mammals are available for the purpose of identification. The information below thus places emphasis on distribution and habitat within Uganda.
Primates are exceptionally well represented in Uganda. There is widespread disagreement about the taxonomic status of many primate species and subspecies, but the present checklist includes 13 diurnal and six nocturnal species. Six of the diurnal primates found in Uganda are guenon monkeys, members of the taxonomically controversial genus Cercopithecus.The vervet and blue guenon monkeys, for instance, are both widespread African species known by at least five different common names, and both have over 21) recognized races, some of which are considered by some authorities to be separate species. Having been forced to
try to make sense of this taxonomic maze in order to work out what is what; I might as well save you the effort and provide details of local races where they are known to Inc.
Apes The great apes of the family Pongidae are so closely related to humans that a less partial observer might well place them in the same family as us (it is thought that the chimpanzee is more closely related to humans than it is to any other ape). There are four ape species, of which two are found in Uganda (for further details see the boxes on gorillas and chimpanzees on pages 264-5 and pages 324-5).
Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) This is the bulkiest member of the primate family: an adult gorilla may grow up to 1.8w high (although they seldom stand fully upright) and weigh up to 210kg. Three subspecies of gorilla are recognized. The most common race, the western lowland gorilla (G. g. gorilla), is not present in Uganda, but an estimated 40,000 live in the rainforests of west and central Africa. The endangered eastern lowland gorilla (G. g. graueri) is restricted to patches of forest in eastern DRC, where there are estimated to be 4,000 animals. The most threatened race of gorilla is the mountain gorilla (G. g beringei). The total number is now estimated at around 700 (a significant increase over the past few years): at least 380 in the Virunga Mountains (shared between Uganda, DRC and Rwanda) and320 in Uganda, where mountain gorillas are resident in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. These reserves, along with the mountain gorilla reserves in Rwanda and DRC, are both covered in Chapter 10, and so we have included more detailed information on gorilla behavior.
Common chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) This distinctive black-coated ape, more closely related to man than to any other living creature, lives in large, loosely bonded communities based around a core of related males with an internal.
Hierarchy topped by an alpha male. Females are generally less strongly bonded to their core group than are males; emigration between communities is not unusual. Mother-child bonds are strong. Daughters normally leave their mother only after they reach maturity at which point relations between them may be severed. Mother-son relations have been known to survive for over 40 years. A troop has a well-defined core territory which is fiercely defended by regular boundary patrols. Chimpanzees are primarily frugivorous (fruit heating), but they do eat meat and even hunt on occasion- red colobus monkeys are regularly hunted in Tanzania’s Gombe stream and Mahale mountains national park, while researchers in Kalinzu Forest in Uganda have observed blue and red-tailed monkeys being eaten by chimps, as well as unsuccessful attempts to hunt black-and-white colobus. The first recorded instance of chimps using tools was at Gombe Stream in Tanzania, where they regularly use modified sticks to `fish’ in termite mounds. In west Africa, they have been observed cracking nuts open using a stone and anvil. Chimpanzees are amongst the most intelligent of animals: in language studies in the USA they have been taught to communicate in American sign language and have demonstrated their understanding, in some instances by even creating compound words for new objects (such as rock-berry to describe a nut).
Chimpanzees are typical animals of the rainforest and woodlands from Guinea to western Uganda. Their behavior has been studied since 1960 by Jane Goodall and others at Gombe Stream and other sites across Africa, including the Budongo and Kibale forests in Uganda. Chimpanzees live in most of the forests of western Uganda, and they have been habituated for tourists in Kibale Forest National Park, the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki Wildlife Reserve and the Budongo and Kanyiyo Pabidi forests near Murchison Falls National Park.
Monkeys All the monkeys found in Uganda are members of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys). They fall into five genera: Colobus (closely related to the leaf-eating monkeys of Asia), Cercopithecus (guenons), Papio (baboons), Erythrocebus (patas) and Cercocebus (mangabeys).Common baboon
Baboons (Papio spp) Heavily built and mainly terrestrial, baboons can be designated as a distinguished from any other monkey found in Uganda by their larger size and a complex and rigid social structure held together Males frequently move between search for so their dominance. cial oons rous and highly are omnivo adaptable, for which reason they are the most widespread primate in types of baboon live in sub-Saharan Africa. The olive baboon, the only type found in Uganda, is accorded full species status ( p.anubis) by some authorities and designated as a race of the yellow/Savanna baboon ( p.cyanocephaulus) by others. Boboons are widespread and common in Uganda :they occur in all but the three montane national parks and are frequently seen on the fringes of forest reserves and even along the roadside elsewhere in the country.
Patas monkey (Erythnvebus patas) Another terrestrial primate, restricted to the dry savanna of north-central Africa, the patas could beconfused with the vervet monkey, but it has a lankier build, a light reddish-brown coat, and a black stripe above the eyes (the vervet is greyer and has a blackface mask). In Uganda, the patas monkey is restricted to the extreme north, where it can be seen in parks, as well as the Pian Upc Wildlife Reserve. It is also known as the hussar monkey. The race found in Uganda is the Nile patas or nisras (E. p. pyrrhonotus).
Vervet monkey (Cercopithecus aethiops) This light-grey guenon is readily identified by its black face and the male’s distinctive blue genitals. Associated with a wide variety of habitats, it’s the only guenon you’re likely to see outside of forests and it is thought to be the most numerous monkey species in the world. The vervet monkey is also known as the green, tantalus, savanna and grivet monkey. More than 20 races are recolonised, and some authorities group these races into four distinct species. At least four races are found in Uganda: the black-faced vervet C.a centralis), Naivasha vervet (C.a callidis), Jebel Mara tantalus (C.a marrensis) and Stuhlmann’s green monkey (C.a.stulhmanni)
Vervet monkeys are widespread and common in Uganda, even outside of national barks, but they are absent from forest interiors and Afro-alpine habitats.
The blue monkey is the most widespread forest guenon in East Africa – uniform dark blue-grey in colour except for its white throat and chest patch, with thick fur and backward-projecting hair on its forehead. The blue monkey is common in most Ugandan forests, where it lives in troops of between four and 12 animals and frequently associates with other primates. It is also known as the diademed guenon, samango monkey, Svkes’s monkey, gentle monkey and white-throated guenon (the last regarded as a separate species by some authorities). Over 20 races are Identified, of which three are found in Uganda, including the striking and very localized golden monkey, which is [Wore-or-less restricted to bamboo forest in the Virunga Mountains. Blue monkeys occur in all but two of Uganda’s national parks (Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo being the exceptions) and in practically every other forest in the country.
Red-tailed monkey (Cercopitlrecus ascinius) Another widespread forest guenon, the red-tailed monkey is brownish in appearance with white check whiskers, a coppery tail and a distinctive white, heart-shaped patch on its nose, giving rise to its more descriptive alternative name of black-cheeked white-nosed monkey. It is normally seen singly, in pairs or in small family groups, but it also associates with other monkeys and has been known to accumulate in groups of up to 200. The race found in Uganda is C. a. sclnnidti. Red-tailed and blue monkeys regularly. Interbreed in the Kibale Forest. Red-tailed monkeys occur in Kibale Forest, Bwmdi, Semliki and Queen Elizabeth national parks, as well as in Budongo, Mpanga and several other forest reserves.
De Brazza’s monkey (Cercopithecus neglectus) This spectacular thickset guenon has a relatively short tail, a hairy face with a reddish-brown patch around its eyes, a white hand across its brow and a distinctive white moustache and beard. Primarily a West African species. De Brazza’s monkey is much localized in East Africa, most likely to be seen in the vicinity of Mount Elgon and Semliki national parks.
L’Hoest’s monkey (Cercopithecus lhoesti) This handsome guenon is less well known and more difficult to see than most of its relatives, largely because of its preference for dense secondary forest and its terrestrial habits. It has a black face and backward-projecting white whiskers that partially cover its ears, and is the only guenon which habitually carries its tail in an upright position. In Uganda, L’Hoest’s monkey is most likely to be seen in Kibale Forest, Bwindi or Maramagambo Forest in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Grey-cheeked mangabey (Cercocehus algigcna) This greyish-black monkey has few distinguishing features. It has baboon-like mannerisms, a shaggier appearance than any guenon, light-grey cheeks and a slight mane. Grey-cheeked mangabeys live in lowland and mid-altitude forests. In Uganda, they are most likely to be seen in the Kibale Forest, where they are common, as well as in Semliki National Park. The race found in Uganda is also known as Johnston’s rnangabey(C: a. johnstoni)
Black-and-white colobus (Colobus guereza) This beautifully marked and distinctive monkey has a black body, white facial markings, long white tail and, in some races, a white side-stripe. It lives in small groups and is almost exclusively arboreal. An adult is capable of jumping up to 30m, a spectacular sight with its white tail streaming behind. This is probably the most common and widespread forest monkey in Uganda, occurring in most sizeable forest patches and even in well-developed riparian woodland. The Rwenzori race of the closely related Angola colobus (Colohus angolensis) occurs alongside the black-and-white colobus in forested parts of the Rwenzori National Park.
Red colobus (Piliocolohus badius) This relatively large red-grey monkey has few distinguishing features other than its slightly tufted crown. It is highly sociable and normally lives in scattered troops of 50 or more animals. About 15 races of redcolobus are recognised, many of which are considered by some authorities to be distinct species. In Uganda, red colobus monkeys are largely restricted to Kibale Forest National Park and environs, where they are especially common in the Bigodi Wetland sanctuary, though they do also occur in small numbers in Semliki
Nocturnal primates Seldom observed on account of their nocturnal habits, the prosimians are a relict group of primitive primates more closely related to the lemurs of Madagascar than to the diurnal monkeys and apes of the African mainland.
Bush babies Also called galagoes, these small, nocturnal primates are widespread in wooded habitats in sub-Saharan Africa. The bush baby’s piercing cry is one of the distinctive sounds of the African night. If you want to see a bush baby, trace the cry to a tree, then shine a torch into it and you should easily pick out its large round eyes. Five galago species are found in Uganda, of which the lesser bush baby (Galago senegalensis) is the most common. An insectivorous creature, only 17cm long excluding its tail, the lesser bush baby is a creature of woodland as opposed to true forest, and it has been recorded in all of Uganda’s savanna reserves.
The eastern needle-clawed bush baby (G. inustus), Thomas’s bush baby. G. thomasi) and dwarf bush baby (G. dernidovii) all occur in the Kibale and Bwindi forests, and the dwarf bush baby has also been recorded in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks. I have no distribution information for Matschie’s bush baby (G. matschiei).