Answering your questions about what can be found in Uganda… and what can’t!

Uganda is the perfect in-between and therefore the most popular country for gorilla trekking. It isn’t the elite, exclusive, and expensive primate safari that is offered in Rwanda (but if that’s what you’re after, this comes highly recommended), and it isn’t the most affordable, wilder, and somewhat risky experience offered in the Congo. Uganda’s gorilla trekking safaris take place in the mystical forest of Bwindi and the strictly controlled experience means your encounter will be of the highest quality. You can find out all you need to know about this specialised and, yes, life-altering activity in our detailed blog post here. What we want to do in this article is answer some other frequently asked animal related questions about this country they call The Pearl of Africa.

Large bull elephants try to dominate one another making for an amazing sighting in QENP

Large bull elephants try to dominate one another making for an amazing sighting in QENP

What is the national animal of Uganda?

This prestigious title goes to the Uganda kob, a subspecies of the kob antelope. Kobus Kob thomasi has reddish-brown fur with prominent white markings around each eye and a patch on the throat. The males are adorned with lyre-shaped horns, ringed just about all the way up. They are quite similar to the puku and the red lechwe, which are two of southern Africa’s wetland loving antelope, also related to the waterbuck. The Uganda kob shares that classic heart-shaped nose like others in the Kobus genus. They like open grassland habitats close to permanent water and they hang around in herds of up to about 40. In Uganda, one of the best places to see these handsome animals that appear on the country’s coat of arms is in Murchison Falls National Park. Perfectly rolling hills of green and plenty of water in the form of the Nile River that bisects it. Definitely a special sight to see!

Beautiful Ugandan kob in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

Beautiful Ugandan kob in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

The Ugandan kob - the country's national animal

The Ugandan kob – the country’s national animal

Incredible landscapes of Murchison Falls National Park with the iconic Ugandan kob on the lookout

Incredible landscapes of Murchison Falls National Park with the iconic Ugandan kob on the lookout

Are there tigers in Uganda?

Negative! Tigers might be part of the Felidae family, which includes African specials like lion, cheetah, and leopard, but they don’t roam the savannah like their cat cousins. Tigers migrated to Asia all those thousands of years ago, and they thrive in the jungles of India, but that is not to say they are abundant. Sadly, tigers are some of the most threatened big cats in the world and there are only an estimated 3000 that remain in the wild. India, China, Russia, Nepal, Indonesia and among the tiger’s native countries, and historically these cats could live in a broad variety of habitats, including the savannah, but over 90% of this cat’s habitat has been lost to human activity, and they are still at risk of poaching. You won’t find a tiger in Uganda, but you can travel to India’s Ranthambore and Kanha National Parks for exquisite and majestic Asian wildlife safaris and chance seeing the orange and white striped tiger.

Are there snakes in Uganda?

There are indeed! Uganda straddles the equator, making it a warm tropical country with plenty of water and heat. Snakes are cold blooded and they seek external heat to warm their bodies, so they are always found in hot parts of the world. There are snakes throughout Africa except for the places where seasonal extremes are too testing, like the desert. The forests and savannahs of Uganda provide the perfect habitat for snakes, but you wouldn’t believe it because they are so shy and are so seldom seen. This is true for most snakes – you should consider yourself lucky if you get to see one! Of course the fear of snakes comes from their ability to inject venom with a powerful bite, and while it is true that this is most snakes’ only weapon of defence, snakes will not bite unless provoked. Uganda’s perfectly temperate habitat means that there are all sorts of snakes from the African rock python, to various cobras and adders, as well as tree snakes and smaller snakes.

Are there lions in Uganda?

Not only are there lions in Uganda, there are tree-climbing lions! While lions everywhere can climb trees, and a few populations do tend to behave this way, the lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda have made a name for themselves doing it. There are big fig trees on the plains of QENP and they are the perfect trees for relaxing in. It’s always what you hope for when you get to this historic park, and there’s a good chance you’ll get lucky and see a whole pride snoozing the afternoon away with their legs hanging down in a truly leopard-like fashion. Of course, you see lions on the ground too… so keep your eyes peeled for big cats everywhere. Just not tigers…

Making eye contact with a young male tree-climbing lion in Uganda

Making eye contact with a young male tree-climbing lion in Uganda

Lions sleeping in a sycamore fig tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park where they famously climb trees

Lions sleeping in a sycamore fig tree in Queen Elizabeth National Park where they famously climb trees

Dozy lions in the fig trees

Dozy lions in the fig trees

You stand the chance of seeing a pride of lions relaxing in the branches of large fig trees in Uganda

You stand the chance of seeing a pride of lions relaxing in the branches of large fig trees in Uganda

Are there elephants in Uganda?

Yes, and Uganda’s unique blend of habitats means that there are savannah elephants on the open grasslands of Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Parks, and there are rare and endangered forest elephants in the primate forests. The latter is an extremely special sight and any encounter should be cherished, as this species of elephant has been poached within an inch of its existence. Savannah elephants are sadly also targeted for their ivory and fighting poaching is a dangerous and ongoing job for field rangers in Africa. But in safe havens like the protected areas of Uganda, these giants roam in good numbers. The only evidence you might find of a forest elephant might be its droppings along a path while you’re on a guided walk looking for gorillas or chimpanzees, but savannah elephants are common in the open ecosystems where plenty of forage and water offers the ideal home.

Excellent sightings of elephant in QENP

Excellent sightings of elephant in QENP

A pair of elephant bulls having a tussle

A pair of elephant bulls having a tussle

Elephants are a common sight on the savannah of QENP

Elephants are a common sight on the savannah of QENP

More questions about Uganda?

Get in touch with one of our experienced safari specialists who have travelled the country and know exactly how to create the best itinerary to showcase Uganda’s most special places. Or, keep browsing and have a look at what else Uganda has to offer in the form of a chimpanzee tracking experience.

Author: Chloe Cooper

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