There are 20 primate species in Uganda, consisting of 13 day-walking (diurnal) and seven nocturnal species. They flourish in the country’s tropical forest, making Uganda a nation with the highest concentration of primates on the continent. The list includes the mountain gorilla and chimpanzee with the most tourist attention and the latest discovery, the dwarf galago.
Most of the primates on the list are Old Wold Monkey species: the golden monkey, de brazza’s, black and white colobus, red colobus, potto, bushbaby, grey-checked mangabey, l’hoest’s monkey, red-tailed monkey, vervet, patas, baboon, and blue monkey.
In Uganda, tourists can have a more profound encounter with Africa’s primate species than any other African destination. The endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees are the tourists’ favorites for wildlife photography safaris and naturalists’ expeditions.
On a trekking expedition, travelers are taken on a wilder experience with primates in their natural forests. Guided trekking adventures go out in the untamed jungles every day, escorted by local rangers, trackers, guides, and sometimes primatologists. They track a habituated primate group and spend a couple of restricted hours watching their behaviors, social structures, and familiar body formations.
The best places to watch Uganda’s great primate species are Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for the gorillas and Kibale National Park for the chimpanzee experience. The two national parks are also excellent for watching other small monkeys on a guided day or night forest walking excursion.
Other places great for watching primates in Uganda include Budongo Forest (Murchison Falls National Park), Kyambura Gorge (Queen Elizabeth National Park), and Semuliki National Park. Other barely known forest reserves offer descent encounters with monkeys, especially for savvy adventurers with time on their travel calendar.
15 Incredible Primate Species Found in Uganda
1. Mountain Gorilla
The mountain gorilla is from a family of great apes, including chimpanzee, bonobo, orangutan, gorilla, and human. Mountain gorillas exclusively live in two separate populations in Uganda’s mountain forests and the neighboring Rwanda and DRC. The most interesting fact is that gorillas can be differentiated from each other by their nose print, like a human’s thumbprint. Also, they live in patriarchal families headed by a male silverback, like most human families. Join the thousands of travelers in the sustainable travel craze of trekking these great apes by visiting southwestern Uganda.
Like the mountain gorilla, the chimpanzee is the human’s closest cousin. We have recently found a devoted fascination in watching and researching this primate. The chimpanzee is one of the most studied primate species and has contributed immensely to human medicine and psychology. Join the daily chimpanzee trekking and habituation adventures to see these fascinating great apes in their natural cradle in Kibale, Budongo, Kalinzu, Kyambura Gorge, and Semuliki Forests.
3. Golden monkey
The golden monkey is an Old World Monkey species that exclusively occupies the bamboo-forested slopes of the Virungas and nowhere else in the world. It’s a small monkey with a bright, vibrant, golden orange coat and cute little face. To watch this endangered primates species, head to the extreme southwestern corner of Mgahinga National Park and join the daily golden monkey trekking adventures into the bamboo jungle.
4. Blue monkey
The blue monkey is closely related to the golden monkey. Despite its close relation, the blue monkey is more widespread in every other forest in the country and in all national parks except Murchison Falls and Lake Mburo National Parks.
5. De Brazza’s monkey
De Brazza’s Monkey is an outstanding primate species with its white mustache, reddish-brown brow, and distinct blue scrotum. They hang out in Semuliki National Park near Fort Portal City in the west and Mount Elgon National Park in the extreme east.
6. Black-and-white colobus monkey
This gorgeous primate does not have thumbs; I don’t think you would notice with its disruptive beauty. The black-and-white colobus monkey‘s contrasting duo colors are unmissable. It has a black coat beautifully contrasting with the long white mantle on its back, whiskers, bushy tail, and beard around the face. Walk in any sizable forest patch and even well-developed riparian woodland, and it won’t escape your eye.
7. Red colobus
The red colobus‘s cute big eyes and tufted crown with its contrasting brick-red, grey, and white-colored coat make this primate an extraordinary species to watch. It is closely related to the black-and-white colobus and is very common around Kibale Forest. A few of them can be seen in Semuliki National Park.
The potto is the closest to bears Uganda will ever come because it’s also called the bush bear, tree bear, or softly-softly. This sloth-like primate species is a nocturnal tree dweller found in Kibale Forest, and you can meet its googly eyes on a night-guided nature walk.
9. Bush baby
The bush baby has a call that literally sounds like a baby—that’s how it got its name. Its big saucer eyes and collapsible ears that rotate like radars make it look weirdly cute. Its other name, galago, reminds me of that ‘Shameless’ tv show about a family with a drunkard father. Kibale Forest forest has very cool inhabitants; even the galago finds refuge in that primate capital.
10. Grey-cheecked mangabey
‘Mangabey’ sounds like some African royal name or maybe a fruit I would love to bite. This small, hairy baboon-like primate has an electrifying smile—look at its teeth. The grey-cheeked mangabey has a slightly golden mane around the neck and a shaggy appearance that make it one of the most extraordinary primates in Uganda to watch. And, you guessed right! You will also find this primate around Kibale Forest.
11. L’Hoest’s monkey
Philip Lutley Sclater should have named this primate Reverant’s Monkey in honor of Uganda’s colonial clergy. Its prominent white bib beautifully contrasts with the dark brown and chestnut-colored coat. This handsome guenon is less well-known and more difficult to see than most of the other astonishing primate species in Uganda. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the L’Hoest’s monkey in Kibale Forest, Bwindi Impenetrable, or Maramagambo Forest.
12. Red-tailed monkey
This is another one of Uganda’s amazingly cite-faced primate species. Red-tailed monkeys look remarkable with white cheeks, whiskers, and a distinctive white, heart-shaped patch on their nose. You should see this monkey eat. It can stash an incredible amount of food in its elastic cheeks and go to a safe place away from predators to eat its collection. These small primate species are everywhere in Uganda, from Kibale to Bwindi, Queen, Semuliki, and every protected tropical forest.
13. Vervet monkey
First, let’s clarify some things: the vervet’s blue testicles are not due to sexual frustration—they are family jewels! Alright!! The vervet is one of the busiest creatures on the savanna, always doing something. When they are doing nothing, you can tell they are planning their next mischief. Did you know that vervet monkey mothers recognize their child simply by its scream? You could not say that for that many human mothers. Although I once babysat a small child with such a unique way of screaming that I could recognize it from far, far away. I think you would appreciate watching them in forests outside national parks—even a lazy walk in the botanical gardens in Entebbe.
14. Patas monkey.
Patas is the fastest primate in the entire world. It runs only on its fingertips and never actually uses its entire foot to run. This reddish, rust-colored sprinter lives mainly on the ground, unlike other primate species. Look out for its unmissable face on the savanna plain of Kidepo and Murchison Falls National Park.
This sociable, versatile, and brilliant monkey is the most widespread primate species in Uganda. Where humans pose no threat, baboons can become confident and opportunist vermins. An adult male baboon has canine teeth longer than those of a leopard. He will use the canines in yawning threat displays to rivals and as lethal weapons for attack and self-defense. Baboon close our list of notable primate species in Uganda because not many people like them but us!