Primates in Uganda
Primates are animals that to some degree retain a primitive body plan which they share with other unrelated arboreal mammals such as squirrels, tree shrews, and possums. Primates are long-backed and short-necked with five-fingered, clinging hands and feet. The forearms are linked to the chest by collar bones and the head has forward-oriented eyes and a short flexible neck. Owing to their locomotive techniques, primates have developed specialized features e.g. relatively slow and careful climbers have a powerful grip on their hands and feet while fast branch runners have long tails for balance, long flexible backs, narrow hands and fingers, small thumbs, and well developed bi-focal vision which helps them assess distance and space.
Primates feed on a variety of ripe and soft fruits while flowers, nectar, buds, and young and mature leaves supplement their diet. As result of feeding on various large quantities of food, it has led to early specialization of lineages. Primates have a weak sense of smell which can be attributed to a high sense of touch and vision as a means of exploring and surviving in a world of branches. In Africa, the primates are sub-divided in the order of apes and old monkeys which further sub-divides into other classes as it is shown below;
On average, a female chimpanzee weighs 30kg while a male one is between 26 and 40kg.
A chimpanzee is a strong ape in the primates family that has long, tufted black hair, a bare face, bare prominent ears, and bare parts of the abdomen. It has brows that are rounded and the margins of the nostrils are scarcely raised. Female chimpanzees are slightly lighter than males and manifest a pink swelling of the ano-genital skin which declines in size due to the cycle of the menstrual period.
These apes(Primates) mainly live in forests and forest galleries stretching into savanna woodlands. Chimpanzees also frequent lowland and mountain forests, manifesting a preference for mixed and colonizing communities.
Half of their consumed foods are leaves but bark and stems form an important diet. Animal foods range from termites, insects, birds, eggs and to nestlings. Small mammals are taken occasionally while preferred foods are figs and fruits, chimpanzees may spend their time feeding on a few species.
They form social communities of between 15 and 20 animals within large territories that are defended by both sexes but mostly males. Only females cross the community boundaries. Adult males are fiercely intolerant of their counterparts in neighboring groups. Immigrant females are generally accepted into groups but their offspring may be attacked and killed.
A female gorilla on average weighs 114kg while a male one, called the Silverback, is between 160 and 210kg.
Gorillas are very large barrel-chested apes with relatively even hair, a bare black face, chest, and small ears. They have bar-shaped brows that are joined and the nostril margins are raised. Female gorillas are far much smaller compared to males. The belly of a wild gorilla is much more massive than in captive specimens. The long blue-black coat of the mountain gorilla differs from the shorter and sparser brownish coat of the lowland forms. The saddle of the mature males becomes grey or white with age hence the name ‘silver’ for old males.
Gorillas live in both lowland tropical rain forests, and mountain, and sub-alpine environments. In most cases, they prefer old clearings, valley bottoms, and landslides where there is a dense tangle of ground level and herbaceous growth. Mountain gorillas eat fewer plant species and feed mainly on leaves compared with the lowland gorillas. Vine and wild celery form a high proportion of their diet. Gorillas form small non-territorial harems dominated by single mature males. Male offspring are driven out and females do not infrequently change groups. Female gorillas tend to establish bonds with males. Once the established pairs are joined by adult females, the sequence of arrival determines female rank and order.
The gorilla spends half of its day foraging either on the move or temporarily static. Like ruminants, they have long rest periods. Mutual evasion is facilitated by frequent advertising signals emitted by dominant males, the commonest call bearing some structural resemblance to a chimpanzee hooting. When neighboring males fail to evade one another, there are displays of roaring, chest-beating, and plant-bashing implying that they are annoyed. Gorillas reproduce at a very slow rate, on average one young every 4 years. Mothers give continuous attention to their young and the dominant male is always alert to the safety of all members of his group. Gorillas live for 50 to 60 years.
STATUS OF MOUNTAIN GORILLA FAMILIES IN BWINDI IMPENETRABLE FOREST AND MGAHINGA NATIONAL PARKS
The Uganda Wildlife Authority regularly monitors and updates its information on the 14 Gorilla Families; as of March 2016, the following details have been summarized by Gorilla Family name:
The Rushegura Gorilla family has 13 members; the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Kabukojo, whose younger brother, Kalembezi helps him co-lead the family. The most recent birth in this family occurred on July 28th, 2015.
The Mubare Gorilla family has 11 members, the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Kanyenyi. In the last four years, Kanyenyi has had 5 forced marriages with females from other families and sired several offspring; rejuvenating the Mubare family from a dwindling 3 members to the current 11. The most recent birth in this family occurred on May 24, 2015.
The Habinyanja Gorilla family has 17 members; the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Makara. Of interest is that this family has a stubborn prodigal member, Maraya, who left the family in 2011, but often comes back to cause chaos in the family; then moves back to a solitary life. The most recent birth in this family occurred in January 2016.
The Bitukura Gorilla family has 15 members; the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Ndahura. This family has 4 silverbacks peacefully co-existing, including the retired leader, Karamuzi. The most recent birth in this family occurred in October 2015.
The Oruzogo Gorilla family has 17 members; the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Bakwate. There is another Silverback in the family, Kagaanga, but he is submissive to Bakwate. The most recent birth in this family occurred in November 2014.
The Kyaguliro Gorilla family has 20 members; the current leadership is a young Silverback by the name of Mukiza, but his authority is being contested by an immigrant Silverback, Rukara, from the Bitukura family. Mukiza abruptly took over the family leadership following the sudden death of his predecessor, Rukina in April 2015. The immigrant Silverback, Rukara is currently commanding a section of the family members, but still closely pulling ropes with Mukiza. The most recent birth occurred on February 5th, 2016.
The Nshongi Gorilla family has 7 members; the current leader is a Silverback by the name of Bweza. The initial Nshongi family had several Silverbacks, who ended up toughly contesting for power, resulting in the split of the family into 2. At the same time several male family members dispersed. The most recent birth occurred in October 2015.
The Bweza Gorilla family has 12 members, a splinter group of the original Nshongi family. The current leader is a Silverback named Kakono. The most recent birth occurred in September 2015.
The Kahungye Gorilla family has 18 members; the leader of the family is a Silverback by the name of Rumanzi. There are also two submissive Silverbacks in this family, Rwigyi, the oldest, and Ruzika, the youngest. The most recent birth in this family occurred in July 2014.
The Busingye Gorilla family has 9 members; the leader of the family, following his successful split from the Kahungye family with other members in March of 2012, is a Silverback named Busingye. The most recent birth in this family occurred on July 27, 2015.
The Bikingi Gorilla family has 17 members, the leader is a Silverback that has been dominant since the onset of the group’s habituation. This new group offers a 4-hour tourism experience. The most recent birth in this family occurred on July 29th, 2015.
The Nkuringo Gorilla family has 12 members; the leader is a Silverback by named Rafiki. This family has two Silverbacks, the second in command is named Kirungi. The most recent birth in this family occurred on April 25, 2015.
The Bushaho Gorilla family has 10 members; the Silverback that is the leader has been dominant since the onset of habituation. .This group is also available for a 4-hour habituation tourism experience. The most recent birth in this family occurred in October 2015.
The Nyakagezi Gorilla family has 10 members; the leader is a Silverback by the name of Mark. This group has the highest number of Silverbacks in a single family, five; there are 2 adult females and 3 young members. The last birth recorded in this family was on October 19, 2013, but the infant died two weeks later.
These are largely terrestrial, predominantly quadrupedal monkeys of open country. Adult males are bigger and longer muzzled than females. They live in harems of a single male with one or more females. Baboons are subdivided into several classes but the common one in Uganda is the olive baboon. An average male olive baboon weighs between 22-50kg while a female one weighs between 11-30kg. A baboon is a grizzled, olive-brown animal. Adult males have capes over the neck and shoulders. Its habitat is mainly woodland and forest-mosaic environment. The olive baboons entirely depend on grass as their diet in open areas and fruits in forests. Male animals may co-operate in some feeding situations.
Location; – Kyambura Wildlife Reserve.
these are small, grizzled, grey, or brownish animals with a black face, mask, and white ruff. They live in groups numbering 5-76 animals. Both females and males follow a rank hierarchy but female coalitions modify the pecking order and deter male aggression towards the young. All young males leave their natal group (usually joining neighbors) whereas females remain with their maternal group. Males only concert their actions during confrontations with other groups.
In Uganda, the common types of monkeys are the Golden Monkey, De Brazza’s, white and black monkeys, and the red colobus monkeys. Monkeys live in savannahs, a wide range of woodland and forest mosaics. These animals basically feed on seeds, flowers, fruits, cultivated plants, eggs, and small vertebrates.
Location; – Kyambura Wildlife Reserve and Semliki Valley National Park