Mammals in Uganda

Common mammals in Uganda

Source: Uganda Wildlife Authority.


Latin name: Panthera leo

The lion is a member of the cat family and one of four big cats (the other three are the tiger, lion and jaguar). With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Gestation of about 105 days, Lions become capable hunters by 2 years of age, and become fully grown between 5 and 6 years. Lionesses in the wild frequently reach an age of 12–14 years, whereas male lions seldom live for longer than 8 years. However, there are records of lionesses living for up to 20 years in the wild. Habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the lions greatest threat. For Tree climbing lions, Ishasha sector is the best place. Otherwise Kasenyi is also popular for lions in QENP, though they can also be found in or around Mweya peninsular or any game track.


Serval Cat

Latin name: Leptailurus serval

The Serval, is a medium-sized African wild cat with beautiful patterned coat, related to the African Golden Cat. Slender animal, with long legs and a fairly short tail. The head is small in relation to the body, and the tall, oval ears are set close together. Female weigh 9 – 16kg, and male 12 – 26kg. Life expectancy is about 12– 16 years in the wild, and up to 20–25 years in captivity. Although the Serval is specialized for catching rodents, it is an opportunistic predator whose diet also includes birds, hares, hyraxes, reptiles, insects, fish, and frogs. Outside protected areas, it is well known to farmers for snatching domestic birds such as chicken. They mainly hunt at night or dawn and dusk, although they are active during day in wet seasons.



Latin name: Panthera pardus

A member of the cat family and the smallest of the four “big cats”. Relatively short legs and a long body, with a large skull. Its fur is marked with rosettes which lack internal spots. Males are about 30% larger than females, head and body length is between 90 and 190cm, Shoulder height is 45 to 80cm, weighing 37 to 91kg compared to 28 to 60kg for females. Primarily a nocturnal creature. Their diet consists mostly of ungulates and monkeys, but rodents, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish are also eaten. Gestation lasts for 90-105 days. Cubs usually born in a litter of 2–4, but infant mortality is high and usually no more than 1–2 cubs survive beyond their infancy. They are solitary, with a life span of 21 years of age in captivity and they live less longer than 21 years.


Spotted Hyena

Latin name: Crocuta crocuta

Also known as Laughing Hyena, or Tiger Wolf, is a nocturnal animal but may remain actively hunting in the morning hours. There is good number of hyenas in QENP only that they are easily heard at night laughing and less seen during day time. Although hyenas appear similar to dogs, they are actually more closely related to cats. Spotted hyenas are famed scavengers and often dine on the leftovers of other predators. But these hardy beasts are also skilled hunters that will take down Uganda kobs and other small antelopes. They also kill and eat birds, lizards, snakes, and insects. Gestation: 3 month. Life span: 25 years in captivity


Side-striped Jackal

Latin name: Canis adustus

The Side-striped Jackal is a medium-sized dog-like animal also referred to as fox which tends to be slightly larger than the Blackbacked Jackal. Its pelt is coloured buff-grey. The back is darker grey than the underside, and the tail is black with a white tip. Indistinct white stripes are present on the flanks, running from elbow to hip. lives both solitarily and in family groups of up to seven individuals. The family unit is dominated by a breeding pair, which remains monogamous for a number of years. Feeds largely on invertebrates and small mammals. Gestation period – 2 month with average litter of 3 to 6 young. Unlike its cousin, the smaller Black-backed Jackal which dwells in open plains, the Side-striped Jackal primarily dwells in woodland. Being nocturnal, in QENP they are normally sighted around the crater field areas and in Ishasha Sector very early morning and late evenings.



Latin name: Pan troglodytes

Chimps are great apes of the tropical forests and wet savannah. In QENP they can be tracked in Kyambura Gorge, though they are also many other wild groups in the Nyamusingiri forests They are have long arms, short legs and no tail. Body covered by a coarse dark brown hair, except for the face, fingers, toes, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. Both of their thumbs and big toes are opposable, allowing a precision grip.

Gestation period is 8 months. Infants usually maintain a close relationship with their mother for several years; reach puberty at the age of 8 – 10 years. Lifespan in captivity is about 50 years. They are diurnal, feeds on fruits as their principal diet, but also on leaves, buds and blossoms. Supplement their diets with meat, their frequent victims being primates such as young baboons, colobus monkeys and blue monkeys. They use tools: large sticks and branches as clubs to throw them at enemies like leopards.


African Elephant

Latin name: Loxodonta africana

A large grey or greyish-brown animal with a long flexible trunk, prominent ears, thick legs, and pointed tusks. The largest living land animals, African elephants are bigger than Asian Elephants. Males stand 3.64 meters tall at the shoulder and weigh 5,455 kg while females stand 3 meters and weigh 3,636 kg to 4,545 kg. However, males can get as big as 6,800 kg. Their trunk is actually a long nose used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking, and also for grabbing things especially a potential meal. African elephants have two finger-like features on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items. (Asian elephants have one.) African elephants, unlike their Asian relatives, are not easily domesticated. Gestation: 22 month. Average lifespan in the wild: Up to 70 years


African Buffalo (Wild cattle)

Latin name: Syncerus caffer

A reddish-brown to black wild Ox-like savanna / forest animal. There are two species, the Cape buffalo found in woodland savanna preferring areas around water and the smaller forest buffalo. Live in herds of up to several hundreds. The most common buffalo you’ll see in QENP will be the Cape buffalo. Weigh 500-900kg with a shoulder height of 1-1.7m. Both sexes carry horns which in the male grow up to 1.5m. The smaller forest buffalo maintains the red colour even as an adult, although in QENP many savanna buffaloes are also red or pale orange instead of black. Sight and hearing are both rather poor, but scent is well developed in buffaloes. They can live in herds of a few hundred. Grass forms the greatest part of their diet, feeds mostly at night. Gestation: 11 – 12 months. Life span: 20 years



Latin name: Damaliscus lunatus

The fastest antelope in the savanna plains of Ishasha sector in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley National Parks. A lean, sleek animal built for sustained speed, the topi looks like a smaller and darker hartebeest of Murchison Falls National Park, with higher forequarters sloping to lower hindquarters, but it has a less-elongated head and ordinary-looking horns, which are similar in both sexes. The colourful coat of reddish brown is made more conspicuous by reverse counter-shading (lighter above and darker below). Young calves of all varieties are a similar light tan without markings. Social systems range from resident small herds to huge migratory aggregations and from large individual territories to breeding arenas, or leks, where males crowd together and compete to inseminate females. Gestation is eight months, and which a single calf is born. Average weight:140kgs.


Uganda Kob

Latin name: Kobus kob thomasi

The Ugandan Kob is a sub-species of the kob, a type of antelope found in sub-Saharan Africa. It is normally reddish-brown, in which it differs from other kob sub-species. Average weight 86 kg and average shoulder height: 86cm. The Uganda Kob is Uganda’s “national antelope” and thus appears on the coat of arms of Uganda. Females live in small herds with no apparent hierarchy. Bachelors form such herds too. Only male have horns. Mating takes place in “leks” – permanent breeding grounds, – where bucks stake out territories. Kobs become sexually mature between 13 & 14 months, but a male will not be active in the breeding grounds until he is 3 or 4 years old, when he has become strong enough to vie for a territory. Gestation is for 8 months, and a lifespan of 20 years. Note: The kob is similar in appearance to the impala, but the two species are not related.


Bohor Reedbuck

Latin name: Redunca redunca

The Bohor Reedbuck is an antelope mostly living in grassland areas near water. It is reddish with lighter areas in the posterior and a white underbelly. Males have curved horns pointing forward and can weigh up to 55 kg. Live in small groups consisting of a few individuals or live alone. An exclusively grazer, that feeds on fresh green grasses and tender reed shoots and generally feeds during the night. The best place in Queen Elizabeth

National Park to look for Reedbuck are areas close to the swamps around Lake George. In such areas can be found feeding together with kobs. Gestation period for Reedbuck is about 7.5 months.


Bush Duiker

Latin name: Sylvicapra grimmia

Also known as the Gray or Common Duiker, is a small antelope with small horns. It grows to about 50cm in height and generally weighs 12 to 25 kg. Shy and elusive creatures with a fondness for dense cover; most are forest dwellers and even the species living in more open areas are quick to disappear into thickets. With a slightly arched body and the front legs a little shorter than the hind legs, they are well-shaped to penetrate thickets. They are primarily browsers rather than grazers, eating leaves, shoots, seeds, fruit, buds and bark. They supplement their diet with meat: they take insects and carrion from time to time, and even stalk and capture rodents or small birds. Breeding is year round and the female gives birth to one fawn after a gestation period of what is variously estimated at 3 to 7.5 months.



Latin name: Tragelaphus scriptus

Bushbuck, also called “bush antelope”, is an antelope that is found in forest and woodland in most places of Queen Elizabeth National Park. It stand about 90cm at the shoulder and weigh from 60 to 150kg depending on sex. Have a light brown coat, with up to seven white stripes and white splotches on the sides. Only male have horns that can reach over half a metre with only one twist. Active during early morning and part of the night, and almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are unlikely to be disturbed. Basically they are solitary animals , though some live in pairs.


Banded mongoose

Latin name: Mungos mungo

A sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. The rough fur is greyish brown, and there are several dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. They have long strong claws that allow them to dig in the soil. Gestation period is of two months, and give birth to 4 young ones which are breast-fed by all milk producing females of the group. An adult can reach a length of 30 to 45cm and a weight of 1.5 to 2.25 kg. They are social animals that live in a pack of 15 to 30 individuals, the core of which consists of one dominant male and 3 to 10 dominant females. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates, including insects (termites, beetles), centipedes, lizards, snakes, frogs, bird’s eggs and sometimes mice, but also eat roots and fruit. They have a close relationship with warthogs and baboons and are often found in their company.


Banded mongoose

Latin name: Mungos mungo

A sturdy mongoose with a large head, small ears, short, muscular limbs and a long tail, almost as long as the rest of the body. The rough fur is greyish brown, and there are several dark brown to black horizontal bars across the back. They have long strong claws that allow them to dig in the soil. Gestation period is of two months, and give birth to 4 young ones which are breast-fed by all milk producing females of the group. An adult can reach a length of 30 to 45cm and a weight of 1.5 to 2.25 kg. They are social animals that live in a pack of 15 to 30 individuals, the core of which consists of one dominant male and 3 to 10 dominant females. Their diet consists mainly of invertebrates, including insects (termites, beetles), centipedes, lizards, snakes, frogs, bird’s eggs and sometimes mice, but also eat roots and fruit. They have a close relationship with warthogs and baboons and are often found in their company.


Giant Forest Hog

Latin name: Hylochoerus meinertzhageni

The Giant Forest Hog is the largest wild member of the pig family Suidae. Unlike most species of wild suid, the giant forest hog has extensive hairs on its body, though these tend to become less pronounced as the animal ages. It is mostly black in colour on the surface, though hairs nearest the skin of the animal are a deep orange colour. Its ears are large and pointy, and its tusks are much smaller than those of the warthog but bigger than that of the bush pig. They are nocturnal, being mainly active for about four to eight hours a day between dusk and dawn. Live in large herds (sounders) of up to twenty animals. However, breeding pairs leave a sounder (group or family) completely and do not tolerate other individuals



Latin name: Hippopotamus amphibius

Hippopotamus (Greek word hippopotamos, from hippos, “horse” and potamos, “river”) is a large mostly plant- eating African mammal, that inhabiting rivers and lakes in groups of 5-30 hippos. During the day they remain cool by staying in the water or mud; reproduction and childbirth both occur in water, where territorial bulls preside over a stretch of river. They emerge at dusk to graze on grass. Grazing is a solitary activity and they are not territorial on land. The hippopotamus is recognisable for its barrel-shaped torso, enormous mouth and teeth, hairless body, stubby legs and tremendous size. It is the third-largest land mammal by weight (1.5-2 tons), behind the White Rhinoceros (3-4 tons) and Elephant (4-5.5 tons). A male hippopotamus is known as a bull, a female as a cow and a baby as a calf.


Bush Pig

Latin name: Potamochoerus porcus

Bush Pig, also known as Red River Hog is the most beautiful members of the pig family and one of the most colourful mammals that lives in the rainforests of QENP. The fur is reddish-brown, with black legs and black & white snout along the top, a white stripe goes end to end on the spine. They live in herds of 6-20 members, led by the strongest boar. Typically, 3-6 piglets are born at a time. Red River Hogs eat grass, berries, roots, insects, molluscs, and little vertebrates. They are capable of causing damage to plantations. The Red River Hog is mostly nocturnal



Latin name: Phacochoerus africanus

A wild member of the pig family. The name comes from the four large wart-like protrusions found on the head of the warthog. Their ivory is taken from the constantly growing canine teeth. A pair of teeth in each jaw with the lower teeth being far shorter than the upper teeth. Both pairs grow upwards, with the upper teeth being by far the more spectacular in appearance. Diet is omnivorous, composed of grasses, roots, berries, bark and even small mammals, reptiles and birds. When feeding, they often bend the front legs backwards and move around staying on the knees. Fast runners, often running with their tails in the air. Can dig their own burrows, but often occupy abandoned burrows of aardvarks or other animals. They enter burrows “back-end first”, with the head always facing the opening and ready to burst out as needed. The male is called a boar, the female sow, and the young piglets. A group is called a sounder


Tree Squirrel

Latin name: Paraxerus Cepapi

Essentially tree climbing animals, but spend a great deal of time on the ground, foraging for food. When disturbed, Tree Squirrels will always seek the refuge of trees. The total length is 350 mm, half of which is tail. This species only weighs 200 gram. The coat colour varies but commonly pale grey. Head and legs are a rusty colour. The Tree Squirrels’ bellies are white. These alert and ever busy creatures carry their long tails extended backwards. Primarily vegetarian, but like most rodents will take insect prey. Tree squirrels use their forefeet to manipulate food items when feeding. They scatter-hoard seeds next to tree trunks or grass tufts, thereby facilitating tree regeneration. They give birth to one to three pups, after a gestation period of 2 months.


Side-striped Ground Squirrel

Latin name: Xerus erythropus lacustris

The coarse fur covering its body identifies this species. The fur is frequently tinted the colour of the soil in which the animal is found, creating an array of colour from brownish to reddish grey to yellowish grey. The pads of the feet lack fur. A white stripe appears on both sides of the body running from the shoulders to the hind quarters. The total length of the body is between 20 to 45cm with a tail length of 18 to 28cm. The tail is somewhat flattened and usually a shade darker than the rest of the body. Ears are small. Claws are present, long and slightly curved, but does not climb trees. Omnivorous animal whose diet consists of palm nuts, seeds, pods, grains, insects, small vertebrates, and bird’s eggs. Breed once yearly 2 to 6 offspring; after a gestation period of 64 to 78 days. Lifespan in the wild 2 to 3 years.


Fruit Bat

Latin name: Papio anubis

Fruit bats or “flying foxes” have their colony in caves in Maramagambo forest, where they can be viewed by tourists. One of the largest bats, reaching 16in in length with a wingspan of five feet. Nocturnal, and hang from their feet during the day. They may hang with their wings wrapped around their bodies, or, if it is hot, may use their wings to fan themselves. They are fruitivorous living off of specifically the fruit and nectar provided by plants. They have a keen sense of smell which allows them to easily locate fruit, and flower nectar in the night sky. Very agile fliers, however landing usually have to crash into the branches of trees in an attempt to grab a branch while flying by. In a colony of fruit bats one male will mate with up to 8 females. Mothers usually have a single pup and cares for it up to 6 -7 weeks after birth. Begin to fly by 11 weeks, however weaning from the parent goes for 5 months. Gestation is 2 month.


Yellow-winged Bat

Latin name: Lavia frons

The Yellow-winged bat, is a medium-sized bat, with forearm lengths ranging from 2.0–2.5 in (5.3–6.4cm), and weighing 25–35g. The combination of yellowish wings and ears and a long, blunt nose-leaf distinguish yellow-winged bats. Inhabit savanna woodland. Roost by day hanging from small branches in acacia trees. Roosting bats are alert and difficult to approach. Insectivorous, they hunt well above the ground, taking flying insects. Females bear a single young annually after a three-months gestation period. On a walk among acacia trees they can be seen flying off from tree branches and at night on compound or security lights, hunting lake-flies and other insects that are attracted to these lights.


Olive Baboon

Latin name: Papio anubis

The Olive Baboon, or Anubis Baboon, is a member of Old World monkeys. Inhabits savannahs, steppes, and forest areas, they sleep, travel, feed and socialise together in groups of up to 50 or more individuals, consisting of 7 to 8 males and then females plus their young. These family units of females, juveniles and infants form the stable core of a troop, with a ranking system that elevates certain females as leaders. They are omnivores and selective feeders. Grass makes up a large part of their diet, along with berries, seeds, pods, blossoms, leaves, roots, and bark of a variety of plants. They also eat insects and small quantities of meat, such as fish, shellfish, hares, birds, vervet monkeys, and small antelopes. Gestation: 6 months, lifespan: 20 to 30 years


Blue Monkey

Latin name: Cercopithecus mitis

Despite its name, the Blue Monkey is not noticeably blue: it has little hair on its face, and this does sometimes give a blue appearance. It is mainly olive or grey apart from the face, the blackish cap, feet and front legs, and the mantle is olive or grey. The body size is 50 to 65 cm in length (excluding the tail), of which females weigh a little over 4 kg and males up to 8 kg. Found in both Maramagambo and Kyambura riverine forests living largely in the forest canopy. It eats mainly fruit and leaves and prefers to live in tall trees which provide both food and shelter. Gestation is around 5 months. Group sizes range from 10 to 40, containing only a single adult male. Often found in groups with Red-tailed monkey and Black & white colobus monkeys


L’Hoest’s Monkey

Latin name: Cercopithecus lhoesti

Also known as Mountain Monkey, is a forest monkey, which is typical of the moist and high primary forests. Very attractive monkey with a dark coat that can be distinguished by a characteristic white beard. Not too often seen since it loves to hide in the dense forest and is terrestrial. Its tail is always in an upright position. There are not many in East Africa and in Uganda you can find them in few places that includes Maragambo Forest in QENP, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and Kibale Forest. They breed seasonally and after about a 5 month gestation period, a single young will be born. Their diet mostly includes fruit, mushrooms, herbs, roots, and leaves, but occasionally eat eggs, lizards, and small birds. In captivity they live for more than 30 years.


Black-and-White Colobus monkey

Latin name: Colobus guereza

Black-and-white colobus are closely related to the Red colobus monkeys. The word “colobus” comes from Greek ekolobóse “he cut short” and is so named because its thumb is a stump or nearly absent. It has no cheek pouches. Its coat is a glossy black with a face and rump surrounded by white and a U-shaped white mantle on its sides and rear of back. Its tail is white at the end. Young are all white. Its hind legs are long and well-muscled for leaping through the trees and bounding along branches. Give birth to a single young born after a 5-month gestation, with offspring produced about every 20 months. Young become fully mature in about 4-6 years. Their life span in captivity is upwards of 23 years.


Vervet Monkey

Latin name: Chlorocebus pygerythrus

The Vervet Monkey is an Old World monkey. Commonly lives in groups or “troops” of 20 or more Their body is a greenish-olive or silvery-grey. The face, ears, hands, feet and tip of the tail are black, but a conspicuous white band on the forehead blends in with the short whiskers. The males are slightly larger than the females and easily recognized by a turquoise blue scrotum and red penis. Its tail is usually held up, with the tip curving downward. Its arms and legs approximately the same length. The mainly vegetarian diet of leaves, young shoots, flowers, fruit, bulbs, roots and grass seeds is supplemented with insects, grubs, eggs, baby birds and sometimes rodents. Gestation: 5 1/2 months. Lifespan: 24 years in captivity


Red-tailed Monkey

Latin name: Cercopithecus ascanius.

Red-tailed Monkey is a smallish monkey of 2 – 6kg with a distinctive white nose patch, elaborate cheek fur and red tails. Their faces tend to be black, but are bluish around the eyes. Their coat is speckled with a yellowish brown colour with paler under parts and grey legs. Red-tailed monkey being a specie of the forests, are found in the riverine forest of River Kyambura and Maramagabo forest. They feed on fruit, flowers, flower buds, shoots, sap and leaves of a wide variety of trees and shrubs, but also include insects such as grasshoppers and ants in their diet. They forage for food in trees and shrubs, and will venture into the upper canopy of trees for fruits and flowers. They are mainly active in the early morning and late evening hours. They live in groups of 5 to 30 and above individuals. Gestation period of about 6 month.


Agama Lizard

Latin name: Agama agama

An agama is any one of the various small, long-tailed, insect eating lizards. They can be found in many sizes, from 5 inches to a foot in length and a wide variety of colours. One of the best known species of agama is the above Red-headed rock agama (Agama agama), widespread in QENP savannah. Mature dominant males have bright orange and blue colouring and may have a red face. Subordinate males, or any that have recently been frightened will have a dull brown colour. At night, all males turn a dark shade of brown. Agamas are mainly insectivores. Their incisor-like front teeth are designs for quick cutting and chewing of they prey. They may also eat grass, berries, seeds and even the eggs of smaller lizards.


African Rock-Python

Latin name: Python sebae

With adults reaching lengths of over 6m (20ft), this is one of the world’s largest species of snakes. Colour pattern is typically brown, with olive and tan irregular blotching, fading to white on the underside. Typically associated with grassland and savannah habitat, not too far from water, sometimes entering the edges of forests. Opportunistic feeders, and will consume almost any animal they come across and can overpower by constriction. Young pythons eat primarily small rodents. However, adults are capable of taking very large prey, including young crocodiles, goats, antelopes and even humans making them potentially very dangerous. Females lay as many as 100 eggs at a time. They guard their eggs aggressively while they incubate for 2-3 months. Hatchlings are between 45-60cm (18-24in) in length


Nile Crocodile

Latin name: Crocodylus niloticus

Found along the Kazinga Channel and Lake Edward. Nile crocodiles have a dark bronze colouration above, with black spots on the back and a dirty yellow on the belly. The flanks, which are yellowish green in colour, have dark patches arranged in oblique stripes. Like all crocodiles, they are quadrupeds with four short, splayed legs; long, powerful tails; a scaly hide with rows of ossified scutes running down their back and tail; and powerful jaws. Nostrils, eyes, and ears are situated on the tops of their head, so the rest of the body can remain concealed underwater.


Nile Monitor Lizard

Latin name: Varanus

The Nile monitor is a large member of the monitor lizard family. They grow to 1.5 to 2m (4.5 to 6.5ft) in length. Muscular bodies, strong legs and powerful jaws. The teeth are sharp and pointed in juvenile animals and become blunt and peg-like in adults. Possess sharp claws used for climbing, digging, defense, or tearing at their prey. Their nostrils are placed high on the snout, indicating that these animals are highly aquatic, but are also excellent climbers and quick runners on land. They feed on fish, snails, frogs, crocodile eggs and young, snakes, birds, small mammals, large insects, and carrion.