Primate Species in Uganda

Primate Species in Uganda

Uganda, often hailed as the “Pearl of Africa,” boasts an impressive array of primate species. Within its borders, the country hosts a remarkable concentration of primates, including both apes and monkeys. Notably, some of these species are endemic to Uganda and face the threat of endangerment. Across Uganda’s protected areas, such as national parks, forest reserves, and game reserves, opportunities abound for encountering various primate species.

Uganda is often called the “Pearl of Africa” and is known for being a prime destination for primate enthusiasts. It boasts a diverse range of apes and monkeys, some of which are endemic and endangered. Almost every protected area in Uganda, including national parks and forest reserves, offers opportunities to encounter various primate species.

Primates’ Intelligence and DNA

Certain primate species in Uganda exhibit remarkable reasoning capacities, often similar to humans. Research indicates that they share over 98% of our DNA. Uganda is home to twenty primate species, with Kibale Forest National Park earning the nickname “Primate Capital of The World” due to hosting 13 of these species.

Mountain Gorillas

Mountain gorillas, belonging to the eastern gorilla species (Gorilla beringei), are the largest of all primates. They are renowned for their human-like behaviors and cannot survive in captivity, making sightings possible only in their natural habitats. Uganda harbors more than half of the world’s mountain gorillas, primarily found in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga National Park.


Chimpanzees, the second-largest primates after mountain gorillas, are known for their exceptional intelligence, sharing over 97.8% of human DNA. Their behaviors include kissing, hugging, tool usage, emotional displays, and proficient communication skills. Kibale National Park, dubbed “The Primate Capital of the World,” is the best place to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat, with over 5000 individuals residing there. Other locations for chimpanzee sightings include Budongo Forest Reserve, Bugoma Forest, Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semuliki National Reserve, and Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

Golden Monkeys

Golden monkeys, a rare primate species endemic to the Albertine Rift Valley regions of the Virunga Conservation Area, coexist with mountain gorillas in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park. Habituating golden monkeys for human visits enables trekking experiences, with Mgahinga Gorilla National Park offering opportunities for both golden monkey and mountain gorilla encounters.

Olive Baboons

Olive baboons, the third-largest primate species, are common throughout Uganda, even in non-touristic areas. They inhabit various national parks, forests such as Busitema Forest and Mabira Forest, and can be observed without a special permit in national parks or along certain highways. However, caution is advised due to their potential for aggression.


Mangabeys, characterized by their black and greyish appearance, inhabit low-altitude rainforests. Uganda hosts two types of mangabeys, including the grey-cheeked mangabey and the Ugandan mangabey (Lophocebus ugandae), an endemic species found only in Uganda. Habituation efforts for tracking enhance the experience of encountering Ugandan mangabeys in forests like Kibale National Park, Semuliki National Park, and Mabira Forest.

Colobus Monkeys


Colobus monkeys, categorized into black and white colobus monkey species, are known for their lack of thumbs and vulnerability to accidents during high jumps. They commonly feed on young leaves and are widespread in Uganda.

Red-Tailed Monkeys

Red-tailed monkeys, distinguished by their red tails and faces, are known for their aggressive defense of their families against intruders. They inhabit various habitats in Uganda.

L’Hoest Monkey

L’Hoest monkeys primarily reside in the mountains of the Albertine Rift Valley and occasionally appear in Kibale Forest National Park. Shy in nature, they are listed as vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.

Patas Monkey

Patas monkeys, also known as wadi or hussar monkeys, inhabit semi-arid regions of West and East Africa. Found in troops, they reside in savannah parks such as Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, and Pian Upe Game Reserve in Uganda.

Pottos Monkeys/Nocturnal Pottos

Pottos monkeys, also known as tree or bush bears, are nocturnal tree dwellers known for their slow movements and sensitivity to predators. They can be observed in nocturnal excursions in parks like Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, and Kibale Forest National Park.

Blue Monkeys

Blue monkeys, also called Cercopithecus mitis, are among the oldest monkey species in Africa. Despite their name, they do not appear entirely blue but possess blue-like hair on their faces, with grey or olive-colored bodies. Encounters with blue monkeys are possible in places like Kibale Forest National Park during Uganda adventures.

By highlighting these primate species and their habitats, Uganda showcases its rich biodiversity and offers rewarding experiences for wildlife enthusiasts and researchers alike.