Primates in Uganda are among the most social animals, forming pairs or family groups. Uganda has a diversity of primates, unlike any other East African country e.g. gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys. These primates have slower rates of development than other mammals since infants are breastfed by their mothers and rely on them for grooming and transportation. They embrace the coordination of anti-predator behavior for example red Colobus coordinate anti-predator alarm calls and among the predators of these monkeys is the common chimpanzee. Primates have advanced cognitive abilities of which some make tools and use them to acquire food and for social displays. Some have sophisticated hunting strategies requiring cooperation, influence and rank, they are status conscious, manipulative and capable of deception.
Uganda is an incredibly lush country commonly known for its mountain gorillas located in both Bwindi impenetrable and Mgahinga national parks. These national parks boost 39 families of mountain gorillas which can be visited during your Uganda gorilla safari of which 12 are habituated and ready to be visited; 11 in Bwindi national park and 01 in Mgahinga. The closeness of these parks support the engagement in other activities like the visit to the ancient pygmies- the Batwa trail, lake Bunyonyi, volcano hiking, golden monkey tracking, wildlife viewing and chimpanzee tracking in the underground forests of Queen Elizabeth national park.
About 4950 of our closet relatives-chimpanzee are also found in Uganda but the most habituated groups of these wonderful primates are found in Kibale national park. This haven is well known for their 1500 chimpanzees of which some are habituated for both research and tourism. Early visitors can go on a full-day Chimpanzee Habituation Experience to watch chimps leaving their overnight nests between 6:00 – 6:30am before feeding, copulating, hunting, breastfeeding, resting, patrolling and displaying until it is time to build new nests around 7pm. Blessed with this sought after treasure, guides are always available at African adventure safaris to take you all the way till the last primate in this outstanding tropical forest while listening to soft music from colorful rare tropical birds. Other primates include;
Golden Monkeys (Cercopithecus Kandt)
Listed as endangered on the IUCN red list due to habitat loss, destruction and recent wars in and near the volcanic mountains of Virunga, golden monkeys are restricted to highland forests of Mgahinga national park in south-western Uganda, volcanoes in Rwanda and Virunga in democratic republic of Congo. Its upper flanks and back has golden orange patch and they live in social groups of up to 30 individuals, feed on leaves and fruits although research indicates that they eat insects. The illegal activities going on this area like tree extraction and bamboo harvest are serious threats.
Black and White Colobus Monkeys (Or Colobi)
They live in groups of up to 9 individuals and a single male can have a number of females and their offspring. Colobus monkeys can go up to 20 years in captivity and the gestation period is about 6 months. Newly born colobuses are completely white. They are herbivorous and they feed on leaves, fruits, flowers and twigs both in primary and secondary forests, river line forests and wooded grasslands. In Uganda, black and white Colobus monkeys are unique to Mount Rwenzori national park but found in all other national parks including the nearest Entebbe botanical gardens.
Olive Baboons (Papio Anubus)
Baboons are some of the world’s largest monkeys and all species live in Africa or Arabia. They prefer savannah and other semi-arid habitats though a few live in tropical forests, spend much of their time on ground but they also climb trees to sleep, eat and look out for any trouble. They eat fruits, grasses, seeds, bark and roots but also have a taste for meat. They eat birds, rodents and younger mammals such as antelopes and sheep. Adult female baboon can weigh 14.7kg and male adult can range between 10-37kg. In Uganda, baboons are found in all parks with an exception of 3 Montane region parks such as Mgahinga, Rwenzori and Mount Elgon national park.
Blue Monkeys (Cercopithecus Mitis)
They are small ranging in weight from 4 to 6 kg; the face is nearly naked and usually dark in color (infrequently blue). Blue monkeys can go up to 25 years in captivity. The body has an olive color with patches of white and black on it. The top of the head is dark in color. Males are larger than females. The nostrils are close together and they face down ward. They have check pouches to carry food while foraging. In Uganda, blue monkeys are found in all parks except Murchison falls and Lake Mburo national park.
De Brazza’s Monkey (Cercopithecus Neglectus)
It has a grey fur with a reddish brown back, back limbs, tail and white rump. Males have a blue scrotum and both sexes have cheeck pouches that carry food while they forage. They weigh 4-7kg and can live up to 30 years in captivity. They dwell in the tree canopy and prefer dense vegetation near rivers. De brazzas live in small social groups, territorial and the strongest male takes over the control of the entire group. They shake tree branches; use booming sounds, facial expressions like shaking its head when stressed out and movements. You can find these precious blue monkeys in Mount Elgon and Semliki national park Uganda.
Grey Cheecked Mangabey (Lophocebus Albigena)
They are tree- dwelling monkeys and excellent jumpers and can live between 5 to 30 individuals usually led by one or several males and males are slightly larger than the females. It feeds on fruits like figs, shoots, flowers and insects. Young ones leave their troop and join another, while females stay with their natal group throughout their life. In Uganda, they are found in Semuliki, Kibale national parks and Mabira forest reserve which are yet to be habituated.
Other primates in Uganda include L’hoests monkeys found in Bwindi, Kibale and Maramagambo forest, Pantas monkeys which are found in savannah parks of northern Uganda of Murchison, Kidepo and Pian-Upe wildlife reserve. Red Colobus monkeys are found in Kibale and Semliki national parks. Red tailed monkeys found in Kibale, Bwindi impenetrable, Semliki and Queen Elizabeth national parks. Bush babies (Galago) and Pottos are nocturnal primates found in Kibale, Bwindi and Queen Elizabeth national parks.