Uganda is a nature paradise when it comes to fascinating tourism attractions especially the wildlife species that capture the attention of tourists who visit the country. This country is referred as the “Pearl of Africa because it has a small slice of everything Africa as a continent offers. There are some wildlife species that exist in one country but not in the other country. Some unique species can be seen only on a Uganda safari and the following are Uganda’s most revered endangered wildlife species;
MOUNTAIN GORILLAS (Gorilla Beringei beringei)
The mountain gorillas are scientifically known as Gorilla Beringei Beringei. This animal has just been put off the list of critically endangered and their number is currently estimated at only 400 within Bwindi Impenetrable National park and only 80 within Mgahinga National park out of the 880 still remaining in the world. Due to their small number and slow reproduction rate, they can easily become extinct if more stringent conservation measures are not put in place.
The Mountains gorillas are threatened by mostly human encroachment for settlement, agriculture and timber, and poaching/hunting. These wildlife species only inhabit the mountainous areas of four national parks that include Volcanoes National park of Rwanda and Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of Congo in addition to the two mentioned Parks in Uganda. They live in families of 3 to 30 members and led by a Silverback (mature male) and currently there are only 13 completely habituated gorilla families in Uganda (12 in Bwindi and only 1 in Mgahinga National Park).
Uganda is the home to the Southern white Rhinos-Ceratotherium Simum. The Rhino population throughout the world is just a handful because they are killed for their precious horns which are assumed to have medicinal significance hence have market within Asian countries. These mammals were completely extinct in the 1980’s, but with the assistance from Uganda Rhino Fund, more Rhinos were increased in the country and can only be seen within Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary-a home to over 19 Southern white-Rhinos
CHIMPANZEES (Pan Troglodytes)
The Chimpanzees are also endangered because in the whole of Africa, they are less than 200,000 and only 5,000 are found in Uganda. These mammals are closely related to humans because they share over 98.7% of their DNA with humans. In Uganda, the common places to sight them in the wild include Kibale Forest National park-offers at least 95% chances of sighting them, the Kyambura Gorge and Maramagambo Forest of Queen Elizabeth National Park, Semliki Forest National park and Kalinzu Forest Reserve. They are mainly threatened due to encroachment and habitat loss, and also the value attached to them as pets in other parts of the world.
LEOPARDS (Panthera Pardus)
The Leopards are very difficult to encounter in the wild during nocturnal/night game drives, yet they are one of the most sought after wildlife species Uganda takes pride in. the mammals are one of the Big Five animals found within Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Semliki Forest National Park, Lake Mburo National Park and within Mount Elgon National Park. The Leopards are continuously losing their home to human activity including encroachment/settlement and are hunted due to the threats they pose to the locals surrounding the National Parks.
AFRICAN ELEPHANTS (Loxodonta Africana)
These large mammals are also part of the Big Five animals found within most of Uganda’s National Parks (Savannah and Forest Parks) with the exception of Lake Mburo National Park. These are very endangered and as of 2014, their number was estimated at 5346 only. These mammals are always hunted for their highly treasured tusks that fetch a lot of money in the black market. Queen Elizabeth National park currently has over 1000 African elephants and other Parks that offer a perfect sighting of these mammals include Murchison Falls National park, Bwindi Impenetrable National park and Kidepo Valley National park.
LIONS (Panthera Leo)
Much as they are the Kings of the Jungle, they are also endangered in Uganda and the whole world. There are less than 200 within Queen Elizabeth National Park after the last count in 2008. What makes these Big Five animals is because they are victims of human-carnivore conflicts where they are killed by the locals around the National parks. An example is the Lions that were wiped out within Lake Mburo National park in 2000 through poisoning, are also habitat loss, diseases and accidents (road accidents). Besides Queen Elizabeth National park, Lions are found within Murchison Falls National park, Semliki National Park and Kidepo Valley National Park.