Primate capital of the world – Kibale forest National Park in Uganda – Primate trekking safaris in Uganda
Primate capital of the world – Kibale National Park holds extraordinary natural beauty, and is home to over 13 primate species. These monkeys are the best friends of Kibale Forest for they play a critical role in the maintenance and preservation of the forest through the dispersal of seeds.
This is especially so with the Chimpanzees, which are herbivorous or feed on fruit. And so when they defecate, they deposit seeds of the fruits they consume across the forest to help in its regeneration. Apart from these active conservationists, the park is home to 795 square kilometres of forest-clad land inhabited by a total of 12 other primate species. Sure, the number 13 is often associated with misfortune but Kibale National Park is fortunate to have 13 different primate species in this forest that is a 6 hour drive from Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. And here are the 13 primates species found in Kibale Forest National Park:
More about Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale Forest National park
Primate capital of the world – The forest has several troops of dull-brown, potty-faced olive baboons which roam about the roadside like traffic cops on the beat. Their wide shoulders, sturdy limbs and sharp teeth make them look like wrestler-vampires who are not here to monkey about. While their close-set eyes, below a prominent brow, big ears, sizable jaws, long muzzle shaping canine facial features remind you of their dogged determination to swagger here and there. There must be hundreds or more of these baboons in the forest, sinking their knife-edged fangs into fruit. Divided up in well-organized troops or gangs, each under the leadership of an alpha male, they may weigh up to 50 kilograms. The anus and genitals (anogenital area) of the females tend to swell and turn reddish-pink when they’re ovulating. Their mating, distress or other calls have “aw”, “ih”, “uh,” sounds.
Bush babies/Demigoff Galago
These are some of the most successful primitive primates in Africa. They are small, nocturnal and able to fly through trees like basket balers bouncing towards that career-defining slam dunk. Weighing up to 1.5 kilograms with rounded, pointed faces and slender bodies that have hind legs which are bigger than the forelegs, their prehensile or grasping hands make them skillful climbers. And they are long-tailed hunters who easily catch insects despite their fingers being so close together that they can’t be used singly. Their large orange-brown eyes give them great eyesight in the dark, and the appearance of an intellectual’s penetrating gaze. Sometimes their immobile eyes are reddish with black pupils, like they have infrared lights emanating from their souls. Like a musician with a powerful vocal range, bush babies have 10 or 11 calls which variously sound like a baby’s wail. Because they are nocturnal, you may see as many as 10 of them together on a night trek through the forest especially around the Kibale forest fragment near Kibale Camp. With their large eyes, they can be most interesting to watch. Perched on a tree branch, a black and white colobus monkey looks at our photographer.
Black and white colobus monkey
Primate capital of the world – They are primarily leaf eaters, so they like their diet lean & green. Temperamentally, they are extremely timid and their normal response to danger is either hide or flee. In order to escape, they use their long arms and legs to levitate their agility. They can run with ease along slender branches, race from the top to the bottom of a 100 foot tree in seconds and clear a gap of 25 to 35 meters separating one tree from another in a single arching leap. Being black & white, their appearance could serve as the title of a Michael Jackson song. Slender, lithe and long-bodied, the word colobus in Greek means “mutilated” due to fact that these monkeys lack thumbs. Where the thumb would have been they have a small lump. You will commonly find them along the edges of the forest. They have the most remarkable fur coat which is fluffy white on the sides and black on the back. Both male and female black and white colobus monkeys have white whiskers on the faces. Another unique feature of the black and white colobus monkeys is their ruminant like multi-chambered stomach in which leaves are fermented and predigested by bacteria. This adaption gives them an advantage over all the other monkeys in the forest because they can eat leaves which are toxic to the other monkeys. The Columbus monkeys are under great threat of extinction due to the great demand for their skins used in the making of rugs.
other primates you can trek on your visit in Uganda
Primate capital of the world – They are thick-set with large, unblinking and intense wide eyes. They have round heads, short muzzle and short round ears half hidden in fur. On the back of the neck are 4 horny points consisting of processes of the last 2 cervical vertebrae and the first two thoracic vertebrae projecting through the surrounding naked neck skin. Their hands and feet are short, while their thumbs are wide-angled. Where their index finger would normally be, there is a vestigial stump which widens and strengthens the potto’s grip. Its foot shows the single claw on the second toe. This is called the grooming claw and is used to clean and comb the hair. Other digits have the flat nails common to primates. Let’s not forget its stumpy tail, which is thick-haired in bottle-brush style. They are usually active at night with very deliberate movements across branches so as not to alert enemies or disturb prey. Moving on all fours, it sometimes hangs under a bough to reach fruit and it may hang by its hind feet. When in great danger, it may allow itself to fall to the ground but it is rarely on the ground.
Primate capital of the world – They are thickset with broad shoulders & breast, their arms are longer than their legs and they have no tails. They also have low foreheads, prominent eyebrow ridges, deep-set eyes which are close together. And a flat nose, narrow lips which are immobile. A chimpanzee is well suited to knuckle-walking with their hands and feet long and narrow, fingers long, outer skin of middle fingers thickened while their thumbs are short, great toes deeply set and short with like thumbs opposable and nails curved. They are noisy tree-dwellers with a chorus of hoots and high-pitched screams, you are treated to the chimp orchestra. With no sold out shows, they may hoot when they come across a rich supply of fruit or when they wake up or when making their nests at night. Or when two groups meet or a large group breaks up, indeed they are known to love noise for its sake. This noise is backed with stamping in the trees and shaking of branches and a reverberating drum roll produced by pounding on the buttresses of ironwood trees. Primatologist Jane Goodall talked about their “rain dance”, which was done when the rain fell and chimps came down from the trees before charging down a slope, slapping the ground as they did so while others jumped back onto the trees snapping branches before throwing themselves to the ground again and racing downhill, dragging the branches with them. At the bottom of the hill, each chimpanzee swung up a tree and sat for a moment before climbing down and plodding up the hill again to resume this dance. This is done as a sexual display, out of irritation or simply to have fun. Kibale Forest is home to five habituated chimpanzee groups that are within easy walking distance and it is the best place in the world to observe them up close.
Best time to see primates and Uganda safari
Ash-grey with a black face fringed by white hair, these are one of the most numerous non-human primates in Africa. Although they are still tree-dwelling monkeys, they spend a good deal of time on the ground. As part of their evolutionary process they started in the trees and feed on fruits, seeds and leaves: all of which often fall to the ground. And so when these objects fell, vervet monkeys climbed down to eat them. Then they proceeded further and further from the trees to eat grasses and insects found there until they became both terrestrial and tree-dwellers. Vervets, which range from groups of 10 to 70 individuals, are known to have similar temperaments to human being since they suffer from anxiety. If you leave your food unattended to, they might show up for a bite. As a result of this variable diet and human apprehensions, they also suffer from hypertension.
Blue Monkey (Cercophecus mitis)
These intense looking monkeys are not noticeably blue like the mandrill; bluish might be a better description. All olive or grey apart from an inky face with a lemon hue on the forehead, they are promiscuous primate. A study revealed red-tailed and blue monkeys living in the Ngogo section of the Park, mating and thereby creating hybrid monkeys which may boast having the best of the blues and reds. And this, it must be said, is the sort of rainbow coalition to make the world color-blind and safer for diversity.
Grey Cheeked Mangaby (Cercocebus Albigena)
These non-confrontational, heavily compartmentalized grey cheeked or white cheeked monkeys are omnivorous and social in nature. Their cheeks are definitely a blend of white and grey, so ashy cheeked mangabey might be the best way to describe this dark primate. It looks like a small baboon because of its doglike head, with a gold-like mane around the neck. The adult males are only marginally larger than the adult females. It tends to forage in the forest trees for food as well as on the forest floor where, in both tree and ground, it can rustle up fruits, insects, flowers and shoots. It moves in groups of up to 30 individuals led by a dominant male. As is their wont, if the groups or troops get too big then they will splinter into smaller, more manageable groups or troops.
Ugandan Red Colobus
They have carrot toped heads and brown buff torsos. Ugandan Red colobus monkeys of Kibale live in multi-male group structures to ward off attacks from chimpanzees. These males never leave their natal groups while the females usually leave to join other troops as females from other groups emigrate to replace them. They can often be seen on the forest floor foraging or balancing with the light brown tails as they leap from branch to branch like central branch managers. Their ability to leap long distances is down to their fleet of foot characterized by dark grey of black hands and feet which are very long. Their troops can be as big 85 individuals and as small as 3 individuals, without them feeling crowded.
Recommended Primate trekking safaris in Uganda
L’hoest’s monkey (Allocchrocebus Lhoesti)
These gray-cheeked mustachioed primates wear a dark brown coat whose chestnut color across the back and a leaden belly, give them a distinctive and somewhat distinguished look. In Kibale, you shall find them in small troops dominated by females and with a token, single male. The females are usually tightly-knit while the male doesn’t stay around for long. He can be part of the troop for days, weeks or years. You will be sure to catch a glimpse of them in the mornings and afternoons, since they are diurnal. These monkeys are normally seen along the main Kibale road.
They are white along the belly, dark brown on the back and have long burnish copper tails, white cheeks bisected horizontally by a black stripe and noses tipped with a white heart shaped spot. Their red tails help them balance when they’re leaping from across the canopy. When in earshot of them, their loud and distinct calls will rent the air and communicate salutations, agreement, dominance, disagreement and even submissiveness. They love their fruits and so they are fructivorous, but are also omnivorous too. Their diet may include insects and flowers when fruits are in short supply. As they forage, you will notice their bulging cheeks as they eat like their lives depend on it. Which is, well, quite the case. Moving into groups of up to 30 individuals, a dominant male leads while females and their offspring follow. Being diurnal, you will see them active in the mornings and evenings.
Uganda Mangaby (Lohocebus Ugandae)
If you visit Uganda, you should consider making the trip to Kibale Forest National Park especially for the Chimpanzee trekking activity. At Great Adventure Safaris, we organize enchanting safaris to the Kibale Forest National Park.
Note: You are unlikely to see all of 13 species of primates in Kibale Forest on a short trip because some of them are completely nocturnal and rarely leave the very thick cover of the forest until night time. Contact Great Adventure Safaris to book primate tracking tour in the primate capital of the world Kibale Forest National Park