The big five mammals of Uganda are found in major national parks, both in savannah and forests, but a few national parks have them including Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park and Kidepo valley national park. The Africa’s big five include the lions, Elephant, leopards, Cape Buffalos and the Rhino but in most parks of Uganda, Rhinos are not there due to their extinction in the recent past. The term big five was derived from the big- game hunters and it refers to the five most difficult wild animals on the African land to hunt.
- AFRICAN CAPE BUFFALO
The Cape buffalo, also known as the African buffalo is remarkably one of Africa’s “big five mammals” and as well one of Uganda’s iconic attractions; and any one on a game watching safari in Uganda’s savannah parks won’t miss spotting them. It is a very dangerous animal, reported to cause approximately 200 deaths every year, the majority of any African animal. It is a large and influential animal that does not surrender even if wounded by hunters.
The horns of the Cape buffalo give a clear indication of their age and sex. The females and young males do not have the hard defensive horns which protect the base of the skull in large adult males.
Cape buffaloes are very communal and live in large and enormous mixed herds of up to 2000 members! Both sexes have a separate hierarchy, with males ruling over females. Members of the same subgroup usually live together in an exclusive composition with each other and will often sleep with their heads resting on one another
The African buffalo which is often confused with the Asian water buffalo, shares many of the same behaviors but they clearly belong to separate genre and classification.
Cape buffaloes have the status of being so dangerous when they are cornered or wounded. There are many tales told by big game hunters earlier this century of injured buffalo turning back and killing the man with a handgun.
The Cape buffalo is a relatively large dark brown to black hooted mammal with dropping edged ears and enormous curved horns.
In Uganda, cape buffalos can be found in Queen Elizabeth national park, Murchison falls national park, Lake Mburo national park and Kidepo valley national park; they are very common animals and every one on a game safari in Uganda can’t go without having a clear sight of their herds.
- The African Elephant
It is a very large herbivore animal with thick, also hairless skin, and a long, flexible, trunk, it has upper incisors forming long curved tusks of ivory, and large, fan or almost corn-shaped ears. The two distinguished species of African elephant are known as the African forest elephant and the African bush elephant. Elephants are difficult to hunt because, despite their large size, they are able to hide in tall grass and are more likely to charge than other species.
Elephants also account to a big pull of tourists and they are considered great attractions in Uganda’s wildlife tours in most savannah parks which habour this amazing mammal. They can be found in the major parks of Uganda, including Murchison falls and Queen Elizabeth national park.
- The rhinos
The rhino is a large, thick-skinned animal having one or two upright horns on the nasal bridge. The rhinos are differentiated as black or white rhinos. Among big five game hunters, the black rhinoceros is preferred most although it is now endangered.
In Uganda, Rhinos are only found at Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch, on the way to Murchison Falls national park. Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch is situated in Nakasongola district at Nakitoma and it is the proud home of the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The re-introduction of Rhinos in Uganda is a project of Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The ranch is conveniently located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the high way to Masindi towards the famous Murchison Falls national park. Ziwa rhino sanctuary is currently the only place in Uganda where you will be able to see rhinos in the wild.
Presently the sanctuary is home to nineteen (19) southern white rhinos. The sanctuary has become increasingly popular with tourists; for rhino trekking, bird watching, nature walks and relaxation.
- The African lion
The lion is a large carnivorous animal of Africa and northwest India, with a short, tawny coat, a tufted tail, and among the males, a heavy mane around the neck and shoulders. A lion is considered to be a very dangerous animal among the big five because it attacks without provocation, and is taken by many to be the best of the big five.
Lion hunting is very challenging because of their habit and temper. Lions live in the savanna where tall grasses, shrubs, and bushes obscure them and cover them with shades. As lions ambush hunters, they use this natural shade when stalking to peep as close as possible before making a final move to catch their prey. Lions do not usually avoid confrontation, but will usually face a challenger. They are unpredictable and usually charge when sufficiently annoyed. The lions are not common animals in Uganda, but can be spotted any way during early and midmorning game drives in Murchison falls national park and Queen Elizabeth national park.
There is also a new introduced activity of Lion tracking in Queen Elizabeth national park which allows visitors to do a game drive purposely for viewing lions as they pounce on their prey during a wildlife safari in Uganda.
- The leopard
The leopard is a large, carnivorous animal having either tawny fur with dark rosette-like black fur. Among the big five, it is most difficult to get hunting licenses for leopards. The leopard is taken the most difficult of the big five to be hunted because of its nocturnal and secretive nature. They are always fierce and not scared of anything, not even humans and will take a fight in the cace of danger. The leopard is brave by nature, and is always active between sunset and sunrise, though it may hunt during the day in some areas. Leopards are usually found in the savanna grasslands, brush land and forested areas of Uganda, including Murchison falls national park, Lake Mburo National park and Queen Elizabeth national park.