i) Aardvark; an aardvark weighs between 40-82kg on average. The animal has a long nose, squared-off head and tapered tail which has delicate built extensions in comparison with the massive body and the muscular limbs which are armed with great nail digits. The fur on many old individuals can become heavily abraded but young animals are well furred. The aardvark is a shy nocturnal animal and rarely seen. Its burrows, spade-like scratching and tracks are more commonly seen than the animal itself. The snout is not at all pig-like, being soft, mobile, rounded and furry, with dense hair around the nostrils.
The aardvark is normally rare or absent in rain forest. It is common in areas with abundant ants, termites and beetle larvae. It digs harems which may be far from foraging areas. This mammal depends on termites, ants and larvae which are foraged at night, beginning an hour or two after dusk. Most food is found on a very close to the surface but sub-terranean termitaries, ants nests and beetle caches may be extensively excavated. Insects are swept into the small mouth by the long sticky tongue.
The aardvark is solitary but females sometimes are accompanied by one or two young Large warrens may be used by more than two or three animals. The only recorded sounds are a grunt and in extreme fear a bleat. The aardvark lives up to 18 years.
Location; – Queen Elizabeth N.P
– L. Mburo N.P
ii) Golden mole; it is one of sub-terranean mammals with shiny coats of very dense fur and streamlined, formless appearance. All moles have a blunt, bare nose, digging fore legs with one or more greatly enlarged claws and less developed hind legs. They have no visible eyes, ears or tails. They live in various habitats where some have been seen to catch food on the surface but most species obtain the greater part of their invertebrate diet underground. They make various types of mole hills and sub-surface tunnels that betray their presence.
iii) Hyraxes; these are rabbit-sized, woolly and brown, with large mouthed, deep-jawed heads and rubbery blunt-fingered hands and feet. Skull and teeth remain the most reliable guide to genera but each occupies a different niche with a distinct diet and each species has loud and highly distinctive vocalization. Hyraxes are mainly diurnal animals.
These animals mainly live mostly in escarpments, rock outcrops, evergreen thickets, moist savannahs and river banks. Hyraxes mainly depend on leaves, fruits, stems, twigs and herbs as their basic diet. The mammals are known to live in single colonies and are aggressive d during the mating season.
iv) Elephant; a female elephant weighs between 2200-3500kg while a male one is between 4000 and 6500kg. An elephant is the largest land animal which can be identified by a trunk, tusks, large ears and pillar-like legs. It has pigmented skin which varies from dense black to pale grey. New born elephants are often very hairy. The large, round ears are not only for sound catching dishes but also as a cooling mechanism.
Elephants normally prefer grassland and savannah areas as their habitats. These mammals entirely depend on grass as their staple diet. Tree branches can supplement grass during dry season. The central unit in an elephant society is the mother and her offspring. Female elephants are not able to conceive until 8 years of age (20 at latest) but once they become mothers they soon become unit leaders. Gestation normally lasts 650-660 days and very rarely 2 young ones are born. Mothers pay maximum attention to their infants all the time. Elephants are thought to live up to 65 years.
Location; – Queen Elizabeth N.P
-Murchison Falls N.P
Odd – Toed Ungulates
- i) Zebra; in Uganda, the common zebra is the most seen animal. On average, a female mammal weighs 175-250kg while a male one is between 220-322kg. It is a muscular horse with relatively short neck and sturdy legs. The stripes are subject to much regional and individual variation.
Grasslands, steppes, savannahs and woodlands form favorable habitats for these animals. They are totally dependent on frequent drinking. They prefer firm ground underfoot so may move off sump lands in the wet season or during flooding.
Grass of the most available species form a basic diet for zebras. They mow short lawns close to the roots but are equally able to take taller flowering grasses. Water shortage may concentrate zebra populations around available water holes during the dry seasons.
Up to 6 females and their young live in very stable harems where they are subject to low-key but continuous coercion by the harem stallion. Zebras have gestation period of 12 months where a foal (2 rarely) is born. The foal sucks the milk for up to 6 months before grazing. Zebras are known to live for 40 years.
Location; L. Mburo N.P
- ii) Rhinoceros; these are the second largest land animals only surpassed by elephants in bulk and weight. They have relatively short, powerfully muscled legs a short neck and a massive head, armed with a nasal horn or horns. Both black and white rhinos used to exist in Uganda until 1980s when they were poached during the political turmoil. The Ugandan government imported them from neighbouring Kenya and are harbored at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola.
Black Rhino; it weighs between 700-1000kg. Its thickest skin forms inflexible plates over the shoulders, haunches, sides, fore head and cheeks. Skin around the muzzle, eyes, ears, undersides and legs is thinner and more flexible. The head has a short fore head and a very muscular, mobile mouth ending in a sharply pointed upper lip. It likes favorable edges of thickets and savannahs with areas of short woody re-growth and numerous scrubs and herbs as its habitat
It’s a low –level browser e.g. (leaves, twigs and branches) typically in acacia, thicket, hard pan and riverine plant communities. Salt is a major attraction of rhinos. They can go for 5 days without water. A female with her young is a basic social unit. Adult females form temporary associations but aggression is elicited by total strangers. Home ranges can cover over 130km sq. but some are as small as 2.6km sq. Overtly territorial behavior is also variable. Males in low density areas are more likely to b e aggressive.
Even – Toed Ungulates
- i) Hippopotamus; a female hippopotamus weighs between 510-2500kg while a male one weighs between 650-3200kg. It has eyes, ears and nostrils on top of the head. The hippo’s main color is smooth, shiny hide purplish grey to blue- black. Underside, eye rims, ears and mouth show variable expanses of pink. Hide glands exude a blood-like fluid. Males have large canines and incisor teeth set in massive jaws and skull and also a huge jowl and thickened neck. Hippos are solitary grazers on land by night, a vocal, densely social and sedentary willower by day. Both creeping and tussock grasses form basic diet of these animals. Females accompanied by up to 4 successive offspring are only stable social unit. Largest males occupy narrow strips of water and land along the fore shore. Here they defend exclusive mating rights but tolerate most subordinate males. Large groups are very vocal. Hippos return to water in the early morning to escape all disturbances that might affect them.
Location; -Queen Elizabeth N.P
-Murchison Falls N.P
– L. Mburo N.P
- ii) Bush pig; a bush pig weighs between 45-150kg. It is compact, with slab-like, short legged body, tapping into the head and snout with little indication of a neck. The dorsal crest and face are often white or grey. Body color varies from blonde or red to grey, brown or black. A wide range of forested and woodland habitats, with a distinct preference for valley bottoms with dense vegetation and soft soils are mostly preferred by bush pigs.
A bush pig is an omnivorous animal. Roots, tubers, bulbs and corns are the basic foods. Fallen fruits, herbage and reptiles supplement its diet. It occasionally scavenges. A female and her young are often accompanied by an adult male within a restricted area where trunk-slashing along paths and rubbing posts suggest that males perhaps females too are terrestrial. Large associations are seen but only rarely. Home ranges of up to 10km sq. have been estimated and nightly foraging walks of up to 6 km.
Location; most parks of Uganda
- ii) Common Warthog; A female animal weighs between 45-75kg while a male one is between60-150kg. This animal is relatively long-legged but short necked with prominent, curved tusks. The facial callosities or ‘warts’ consist of 3 paired masses of thickened skin and connective issue protecting the jaws, eyes and the muzzle. Warthogs run at a high, jaunty trot, with back straight and the very narrow tail held vertically. The head is held high .Feeding animals drop to their knees and commonly graze in this position, with their hind quarters raised.
Warthogs are common in alluvial soils in lightly wooded country with a mosaic of vegetation types but well distributed throughout savannah and open woodland areas. They graze throughout the rains searching mats of short species. They strip growing grasses of their seed heads. During dry season, they turn to leaf bases and rhizomes that store nutrients using their sharp edge of the nose disc. Mothers and their female offspring retain the most enduring bonds. Thus a new family unit joins others that are probably also close relatives. These loose groupings live within clan areas averaging about 4km sq.
- iv) Giraffe; a giraffe is between 450-180kg for a female while a male one is between 1800-1930kg. The length of a giraffe’ neck is only matched by that of its legs and its low motion lope covers ground at a great rate. Giraffes can run at 60km/h. Both young and old are able to outstrip most predators. The neck is fringed with a short, thick mane and both sexes develop three horns above the eyes. The face is strongly tapered and a 45cm tongue is the principle means of gathering foliage into the large, elastic mouth and lips. They prefer savannahs, open woodlands and seasonal flood plains with abundant termitary thickets. They are common in areas where rainfall, soils wind or flooding favor scattered low and medium woody growth.
The giraffes like feeding on abundant green deciduous growth during which time they are widely dispersed. They select nutritious foliage that makes modest feeding possible. Adult males are vestigially territorial because the mature bulls monopolize all mating and are intolerant of other large males. Females have unstable home ranges that keep on drifting from year to year except during periods of motherhood. New born calves rise to their feet within 5 minutes and after a week or so may join other calves in the vicinity. Mothers tend to leave their crèche of youngsters on their own and that is why between half and three-quarters of all giraffes fail to survive due to predation
Location; – Kidepo Valley N.P
- v) Buffalo; this animal is between 250-850kg in weight. It is a large ox with thick, bossed horns and tasseled ears. The coat is short, often sparse and colored from a rich red to black. The underside and chin of the buffalo is often pale and patches of contrasting color appear on the face and legs. Buffalos are most common in the forests with water courses and water-logged basins. They prefer humid climate that favors continuous plant growth. Savannahs and mosaics endowed with patches of thicket and reeds provide favorable habitats for buffalos. They feed on a wide range of grasses including swamp vegetation. Grazing is influenced by disturbance or human predation with animals switching from continuous grazing to dawn, dusk and night time grazing.
They form small groups of up to 12 animals with related females and their offspring as the core and 1 or more attendant males. Other males are solitary or form small bachelor parties. Buffaloes can form a large gathering of as many as 200 animals only possible during the rains or on major patches of rich pasture. Gestation lasts about 11 months and birth intervals of 2 years are normal. The cow-calf bond is very strong and exclusive but the female attachment to her herd is also close.
Location; – Queen Elizabeth N.P
– Murchison Falls N.P
– Kidepo Valley N.P
- vi) Bush buck; a female bush buck weighs between 24-60kg while a male one is between 30-80kg. It is a small bovine. Females and young are mainly red and males become progressively black with sexual maturity and age. The undersides are white; there are white flashes above black hooves and white markings on face and ears. Bush bucks are dependent on thick cover for protection. They can subsist on dew and sometimes lives in reed beds.
They largely depend on scrubs, leguminous herbs and growing grass. Also pods, fruits of many species form an important part of their diet. Their feeding habits are largely influenced by disturbances and predators. Bush bucks rest and ruminate frequently. They live at variable densities, not territorial but solitary when feeding.
Location; – most parks of Uganda.
vii) Sitatunga; a female animal weighs between 40-85kg while a male one weighs between 80-130kg. Sitatungas are shaggy-long legged bovines, distinguished by spread-eagled stance and long splayed hooves. Females are larger and darker with heavy, sharply keeled horns. They feed on scrubs, herbs and grasses with strong regional biases. Sitatungas are most active from18:00-10:00 at night.
A rich, year-round supply of greenery, permits sitatungas to form small home ranges and potentially high densities. Females are especially prone to gather in high density areas and may be accompanied by more than one generation of calves. They have a clumsy gait but are quiet and deliberate in their movements.
viii) Dwarf antelope; this mammal is 5.5kg in weight. The male antelope is heavier than the female. It has a soft mahogany-brown fur which has a shiny gloss. White markings are conspicuous. The smaller male has very short conical horns. It prefers dense, low undergrowth near water courses, roads, gardens and Chablis as its habitat. It feeds on shoots and browses leaves.
Location; Queen Elizabeth N.P
- ix) Water buck; A female animal is between 160-200kg while a male is between 200-300kg. It is variable in color where grey and rufous individuals are in mixed groups. A male has long horns, rump crescent and is white under tail. It is sedentary in savannahs, woodland and mosaics close to permanent water. Water bucks feed on many species including reeds and rushes. Both sexes remain for up to 8 years on same home range.
Location; – most parks of Uganda
- x) Uganda Kob; a female kob weighs between 60-70kg whereas a male one is between 85-121kg. Males have thick, lyrate horns; coloring varies from rufous or pale brown to black and white in the suds flood plain. They prefer flats or gently rolling country close to water as their habitat.
Uganda kobs graze on the commonest grasses. Their behavior is characterized by resident populations which move daily between habitual grazing grounds and watering places.
Location; most parks of Uganda.
- xi) Oribi; a male oribi is between 12-22kg while a female one averages 2kg heavier. It is a tall, slender and has sandy body color with white undersides, upper throat, and mouth and ear linings. Its light colored muzzle deflects down sharply from the fore head. An oribi is shy and alert, utters piercing whistle as it flees with rocking-horse gait.
It mainly depends on fresh green grass as its food. Females are larger than males and independent in their movements but as the object of the continuous attention from a single male, each adult female determines the area within which he is intolerant of other males. Whistle may serve as both alarm and also to advertise shifting positions and movement.
xii) Impala; a female impala weighs between 40-60kg while a male one is between 45-80kg. Impalas are gazelle-like with brown or yellowish brown back, lighter on haunches, shoulder, neck and head and sharply lighter on flanks. Underside, chin, mouth and ear linings are white. Ear tips, thigh stripes, mid line of tail and bushy fetlock glands are black. Adult males have long narrow horns, with shallow, well spaced annulations, that arch up and out then back and up. The most preferred habitats for impalas are edges between grasslands and denser woodlands. They occupy grasslands during rainy seasons while woodlands are occupied during the dry seasons.
Impalas almost are wholly grazers during the rains. When grass decreases, they resort to woodlands, browsing on scrubs, herbs, pods and seeds. Feeding occurs mainly in two major bouts i.e. around dawn and dusk and two minor bouts i.e. night and early afternoon with shading and ruminating in between. Females form clans of 30-120 animas with home ranges radiating out from fairly stable centers. Although gregarious, neither females nor males form lasting associations. Most healthy adult males are intolerant in presence of oestrus females, so fights are very common during the rut.
Location; – Queen Elizabeth N.P
– Murchison Falls N.P
– L. Mburo N.P
xiii) Eland; a female eland weighs between 300-600kg while a male one is between 400-942kg.The animals are very large, tan bovine in which both sexes have horns and dew lap. They have long tail with tufted tip and narrow, relatively small ears. Males tend to increase in weight throughout their life, neck and shoulders darken from tan to grey and dew lap enlarges until it hangs below the level of the knees. Hair on males’ fore head also changes, becoming more and bushier. Mouth and muzzle are small and pointed in comparison to those of buffaloes and cattle.
Elands are primarily animals of the woodlands and woodland savannah. They gather in large herds during and after the rains and scatter into smaller groups in the dry season. They browse foliage and herbs. In dry seasons, elands feed on myrrh and bush willows. Malula fruit and acacia seeds are eaten in large quantities in the dry season.
Mutual attraction among calves leads to temporally isolated groups of up to 50 animals from where female herds form hierarchies determined by principle of rank, age and size in both sexes. They temporarily congregate up to 100 where young female animals are known to be nomadic while older male animals are more residential. More mating take place during rains from which birth is given after 9months at the end of dry season. Elands can live up to 25 years.
Location; – L.Mburo N.P
– Queen Elizabeth N.P
xiv) Duikers; these are forested antelopes with compact body, head and short wedged head with horns. There are several sub-species but we shall look at a bush duiker as a case study.
Bush duiker is long-legged and has larger ears than forest duikers. Their color varies according to the region it is placed in. Male animals are the only ones with straight, upright horns. It flourishes in a wide range of habitats.
Leaves and shoots of numerous dominant bush plants, fruits are very important in their diet. The bush duiker does not need water Male animals defend territories with little or no overlap in range.
Location; – L. Mburo N.P
– Queen Elizabeth N.P
- xv) Topi; a female topi weighs beyween75-150kg while a male one is between120-160kg. They are large, compact antelope with deep chest, prominently ridge shoulders, rather short neck and long face. The tail is narrow and fringed. Horns vary from one region to another but all have backward curving stems and forward or inward curving tips. Their body color varies from rather yellowish bleached brown to red or even purplish brown. Black patches on hind quarters and fore legs above, are ochre- colored stockings. Topis prefer seasonally flooded grasslands. They follow receding waters in the dry season and retreat into higher ground in the rains or flood season. These animals like naturally short or medium height pastures.
Although most valley grasses are taken are taken, they prefer very short leaves which are striped from the stems with a nodding action that finely balances raking wrenches with clipping bites. Despite the topis living in large migratory herds, they may co-exist with other residential animals. Residents probably off shoots of larger aggregations but they occupy territories defended by males. Large groups have very intense rutting while herds are at their most concentrated. Young are born after an 8 month gestation. The sandy-fawn calf lies up for a few days before joining its mother. Young often gather spontaneously and females may form a defensive ring around them.