Primates in 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 velvet and blue guenon monkeys, for instance, are both widespread African species known by at least five different common names, and both have over 20 recognized races, some of which are considered by some authorities to be separate species.

Primates in Uganda, 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.

  1.  Mountain Gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei)

This is the bulkiest member of the primate family: an adult gorilla may grow up to 1.8m high (although they seldom stand fully upright) and weigh up to 210kg.

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  1.  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.

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Colobus monkey Uganda primates


All the monkeys found in Uganda are members of the family Cercopithecidae (Old World Monkeys). They fall into five genera:

  1.  Back-white Colobus and Red Colobus (closely related to the leaf-eating monkeys of Asia),
  2. Potto
  3. Bushbaby
  4. Grey-cheeked Mangabey
  5. L’Hoest’s Monkey
  6. De Brazza’s Monkey
  7. Red-tailed Monkey
  8. Blue Monkey
  9. Vervet Monkey
  10. Patas Monkey
  11. Baboons
bushbaby uganda nocturnal animals

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.


Also called galagoes, these small, nocturnal primates are widespread in wooded habitats in sub-Saharan Africa. The bushbaby’s piercing cry is one of the distinctive sounds of the African night. Read more

Potto (Perodicticus potto)

This medium-sized sloth-like creature inhabits forest interiors, where it spends the nights foraging upside down from tree branches. It can sometimes be located at night by shining a spotlight into the canopy. Read more

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