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Wildlife & Animals

Animals In Kidepo Valley National Park | Kidepo National Park Animals

Kidepo Valley National Park is among the Uganda safari parks with abundant wildlife a must-visit while on your Uganda tour holiday. The park is home to over 77 mammal species including about 20 species of predators and over 28 Kidepo endemics including cheetahs, black-backed jackals, aardwolves, caracals, greater and lesser kudus plus the bat-eared foxes.

Most animals in Kidepo Valley National Park such as 4 of the African safari big five (lions, elephants, buffaloes, leopards), antelopes like the Uganda kobs, bushbucks, mountain reedbucks, oribis, waterbucks, topis, Jackson’s hartebeest, among others, are spotted in the golden plains of the Narus valley.

Please note that most animals in Kidepo national park are spotted while on a game drive however, it’s also possible to spot some while on guided nature walks in the Kidepo valley region.

The following are Kidepo Valley National Park animals:

A. Carnivores Animal In Kidepo Valley National Park

Over 20 species of predators have been recorded in Kidepo Valley National Park including lions, leopards, and spotted hyenas plus some of which are Kidepo endemics counting the cheetahs, caracals, bat-eared foxes, black-backed jackals and the aardwolves.

Below are the carnivorous animals in Kidepo national park animals.

  1. Lions- Panthera Leo

Famously, the lion is known as the “King of the jungle”, the 2nd biggest cat in the world after the tiger. On average, lions weigh about 130- 190kg. Arguably, lions are the most sought-after animals by tourists on African safaris in Uganda. They mostly inhabit grasslands and are diurnal however, can hunt at night and twilight, especially when persecuted in their environment.

Female lions are responsible for the hunt and mostly enjoy buffaloes, Zebras, and antelopes. Lions in the wild live in the pride of about 15 individuals led by a dominant male. In the wild, female lions on average live for about 15-16 years while males only 8-10 years

On your Uganda wildlife safari in Kidepo national park, they are spotted while on game drives in the golden plains of Narus valley.

  1. Leopards- Panthera Pardus

For many, a leopard might be difficult to distinguish between a leopard and a cheetah however, they can be differentiated. Leopards have rosette-shaped spots with shorter limbs and are more muscular than cheetahs. Please note that leopards prefer wooded and rocky habitats thus, rarely seen due to their secretive and solitary nature.

A female leopard usually produces 2-4 cubs, usually in caves, hollow trees and thickets. The cubs are born with closed eyes that open after 4-9 days after birth. Leopards have an average life span of about 12- 17 years.

Amazingly, leopards hunt using stealth and power often getting to about 5m before pouncing their intended prey and can run at speeds of over 58km/h. In Kidepo park Uganda, they can be spotted lying on rock outcrops in Narus valley while on a game drive.

  1. Cheetahs- Acinonyx Jubatus

Most people fail to differentiate between cheetahs with leopards however, these are different, cheetahs have longer limbs and black tear marks. Please also note that cheetahs are the fastest land animals on earth capable of running over 70km/hr. in short bursts. Unlike leopards, cheetahs hunt using speed as opposed to stealth.

Cheetahs live in 3 main social groups consisting of females, their cubs and the male, usually in open savannahs around rock outcrops. Cheetah cubs are highly vulnerable to predators like hyenas, and lions. Almost over 50% of their cubs are killed before they reach 3 months.

Among the large predators, cheetahs are the least powerful. On your Uganda tours, cheetahs can only be spotted in Kidepo national park while on a game drive in the amazing open savannah plains of Narus valley.

  1. The Spotted HyenasCrocuta Crocuta

Also known as the laughing hyena, the spotted hyena is the sole member of the genus Crocuta. Hyenas have got a sloping back, and dark brown spots, and are blessed with mighty jaws that can crack open bones and slice through the thickest hides.

Please note that hyenas give birth to 2-3 cubs, born with their eyes open. Giving birth in hyenas is so difficult for females as they give birth through their narrow clitoris. During parturition, their clitoris ruptures to facilitate the passage of the young and can take weeks to heal.

Hyenas are typical nocturnals which don’t hunt for themselves in most cases, they feed on what other animals like leopards and lions have hunted by stealing from them however, they’ve exceptional hunting skills capable of killing an animal as large as a wildebeest. Please note that they’re nocturnal, lying in the day in thick bush or den. They can be spotted in Narus valley.

  1. Black-Backed Jackals- Canis Mesomelas

In Uganda, black-backed jackals (silver-backed jackals) are only restricted to Kidepo national park and Pian Upe WR vicinities. They’re fox-like animals, nocturnal in nature however, they can be seen in the daytime. Being omnivorous, they feed on small mammals, reptiles, birds, eggs, carrion and fruits.

They’re closely related to side-stripped jackals however, this cunning and daring animal can be identified by its slender body, long legs, large ears, reddish brown to tan coat on the flanks and legs plus a black saddle intermixed with silvery hair extending from the shoulders to the base of the bushy tail.

Though black-backed jackals have ever been recorded in Kidepo Valley NP Uganda, they’re rarely spotted however, if lucky, they can be spotted in the Narus valley region.

  1. Side-Striped Jackals– Lupulella Adusta

The side-striped jackal is a nocturnal, dog-like carnivore, slightly larger than the black-backed jackal. Its fur color is buff-grey and the back is darker grey than the underside, and the tail is black with a white tip. It has white stripes on the sides running from elbow to hip.

The side-striped jackal is less carnivorous therefore, it’s omnivorous feeding on small mammals, fruits, maize, reptiles, eggs and birds. It can be spotted while on a game drives in Narus valley.

  1. African Hunting Dog- Lycaon Pictus

Known as the African painted dog, the African hunting dog is the largest wild canine in Africa listed endangered on the IUCN red list since 1990. They’re long-legged predators with large, round ears facing upwards. Their fur is stippled in black, yellow and brown colors, and the tip of their tail is white.

African hunting dogs live in packs of 5- 50 and are the most effective pack hunters in Africa. Though African hunting dogs are present in Kidepo national park, they are hard to spot.

  1. Serval Cats- Leptailurus Serval

A serval cat is a wild cat native to Africa. It features a small head, large ears, a golden-yellow to buff coat, spotted and striped with black, and white marks on the ear, and a short black-tipped tail. The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size.

Mainly serval cats prey on rodents, frogs, insects, reptiles, and small birds as they can jump over 4m up in the air. On your Uganda safari in Kidepo national park, you can spot it in the rolling plains of Narus valley.

  1. Bat-Eared Fox- Otocyon Megalotis

Also called the large-eared fox, a bat-eared fox is a species of fox found in the African savanna. In Uganda, it has been only spotted in Kidepo Valley National Park though, on rare occasions.

It’s named after its amazing bat-like large ears in proportion to its head. It’s yellowish-grey with a black face and legs with black-tipped ears and a tail. It feeds primarily on insects, especially termites.

  1. The CaracalCaracal Caracal

A caracal is a medium-sized cat found in open habitats. It’s easily identified by its uniform reddish-brown coat, long canine teeth, long legs, short face, and amazing tufted cars. On Uganda safaris, caracals have only been spotted in Kidepo national game park though still on rare occasions.

Other Carnivores Animals In Kidepo Valley National Park

These include:

  1. African wild cats
  2. Aardwolves
  3. Honey badger
  4. Aardvarks
  5. Mangoose for example, the banded mongoose, greater grey mongoose, lesser slender mongoose, and the marsh mongoose.
  6. Weasels e.g. the African- striped weasel
  7. Hedgehogs for example, the East African hedgehog.

Herbivores Animals In Kidepo National Park

There is a variety of herbivores animals in Kidepo Valley National Park and these include the following:

  1. African Bush Elephant- Loxodonta Africana

The African bush elephant is the largest land animal on earth weighing over 6,000kg on average. Elephants have pillar-like legs, wrinkled grey tough skin which is 30mm thick and large ears that help them to regulate body heat by flapping them. They’ve also sturdy tusks that curve out and then point forward.

Elephants have got a trunk (an elongation of the upper lip and nose). This highly sensitive organ is thought to hold about 40,000- 60,000 muscles therefore, due to its muscular structure, its capable of lifting about 3% of the elephant’s weight. It’s mostly used for smelling, touching, drinking, feeding, sound production, dusting, loading, and attacking.

Elephants have a gestation period of about 22 months, and on average, the birth interval is about 3-5 years. Elephants are invulnerable to predators however, lions and spotted hyenas have been spotted attacking them. On your Uganda wildlife expedition in Kidepo national park, elephants are spotted on game drives in the Narus valley.

  1. African Cape Buffalo- Syncerus Caffer

The cape buffalo is a large sub-Saharan African bovine- among the African safari big five. It’s generally regarded as one of the most dangerous animals in Uganda killing over 200 people per year. Cape buffaloes are heavy cow-like animals with their color ranging from grey or black and young ones are often reddish-brown.

The unpredictable temper of the African buffalo may be the reason that this incredible cow-like animal has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart. Its natural predators mostly include lions, hyenas, and crocodiles. On average, buffalos can live about  25 years in the wild.

On your Uganda safaris in Kidepo valley park, they’re spotted in the open grasslands of Narus valley while on a game drive.

  1. Burchell’s Zebra- Equus Burchelli

Burchell’s zebra is also called the Plain zebra. It’s the only species of zebra spotted on Uganda safari tours here in Kidepo and also in Lake Mburo National Park. The Plain zebra has black and white stripes all over its body with fading stripes on the legs and each zebra has distinct stripes unique to each other, like fingerprints on humans.

The stripes on the neck to the forelimbs are vertical and continue in the mane which is short and sticks straight up. Zebras live in small groups however, usually gather in larger herds around water and food sources, but still keep their identity as family units. They’re most spotted in the golden plains of Narus valley while on a game drive.

  1. Rothschild’s Giraffe

Also called Giraffa camelopardalis Rothschild, a Rothschild’s giraffe is one of the unmistakable large animals in Uganda you shouldn’t miss seeing on your tour. A giraffe is the tallest animal in the world towering about 5.5m high, above any animal and most plants. It has pale orange-brown patches, and it’s famously known for its long amazing neck and a 45cm long tongue.

Amazingly, the giraffes’ front legs are taller than their hind legs thus, giving it a steep sloping back from the shoulders to the rump. Please also note that giraffes have two horns called ossicones which are bone protrusions covered with skin and fur.

Giraffes have fewer predators however, on rare occasions, they can be preyed on by hyenas, lions, crocodiles, and leopards. In Kidepo national park, they can be spotted in open and wooded savannahs of Narus valley while on a game drive though, on rare occasions.

  1. Uganda Kobs- Kobus Kob Thomasi

Ugandan kob is a beautiful medium-sized antelope, normally reddish-brown in color, differentiating it from other kob subspecies. It’s the national animal in Uganda appearing on the coat of arms of Uganda, representing the abundant wildlife present in Uganda. In appearance, it’s more like an impala however, more sturdily built, has a throat patch, and its muzzle, eye ring and inner ear are white.

Its belly and inside of the legs are white while the front of the forelegs is black. Only males have lyre-shaped horns. Kobs mostly dwell in open savannahs however also possible in wooded savanna. On your Kidepo safari in Uganda, it can be spotted in the golden plains of Narus valley.

  1. Common Eland- Taurotragus Oryx

The common eland is a nice-looking antelope also known as the southern eland (eland antelope). Its Africa’s largest savannah antelope found in eastern and southern Africa, weighing on average 500- 600kg however, males can weigh up to 1,000kg. An eland is the slowest antelope, having a peak speed of about 40km/hr and tires them quickly.

The coat of this beautiful antelope is genuinely smooth. Females have a tan coat while males are darker, with a bluish-grey tinge and a series of vertical white stripes on the sides. Males also have dense fur on their foreheads and a large dewlap on their throats. They can be spotted while on a game drive in the rolling grasslands of Narus valley.

  1. Cape Bush Buck- Tragelaphus Sylvaticus

A bushbuck is a widespread species of antelope found in a wide range of habitats such as riverine, woodlands and other thicketed habitats.  It’s generally solitary or a territorial browser and a close relative of the Nyala but, the bushbuck is rather a large antelope weighing about 45- 80kg.

Female bushbucks have a lighter brown coat however, all sexes have up to 7 white stripes and white spots on the sides. Other white patches are on the ears, chin, tail, legs and neck. The muzzle is also white and horns are found only on the males. They’re mostly spotted in Narus valley.

  1. Defassa’s Waterbuck- Kobus Ellipsiprymnus

A Defassa’s waterbuck is large antelope, with a long body, neck and short legs, coarse hair, plus a mane on its neck. Only males have horns. More so, waterbucks have a cream-colored patch (a bib) on the throat. They’ve got a shaggy brown-grey coat that produces a smelly greasy secretion when nervous, thought to repel predators and waterproofing when the animal dives into the water.

Waterbucks mostly dwell in scrubs and savanna areas along valleys, rivers, and lakes, and on your Uganda tour in Kidepo national park, they can be spotted in Narus valley.

  1. Hartebeest- Alcelaphus Buselaphus

The hartebeest (Jackson’s hartebeest) is a large fawn-colored antelope weighing about 100-200kg. Its most distinctive features are a steeply sloping back, long legs, elongated face, and oddly-shaped horns. Despite their awkward appearance, they’re graceful even more than other antelopes. They’re also among the fastest, antelopes capable of reaching speeds of up to 70km/h.

Hartebeests usually reach sexual maturity at about 1-2 years of age. They have a  gestation period of about 8-9 months and a lifespan of over 12-15 years. They’re mostly spotted in dry savannas and wooded grasslands. In Kidepo Valley NP, you can spot them in the Narus valley region.

  1. Topi- Damaliscus Lunatus Jimela

The topi is a medium-sized antelope with a striking reddish-brown to purplish-red coat. To many, topis are confused with Jackson’s hartebeest but, these two are different. Topis have distinctive black patches on their face, upper forelegs, hips and thighs.

Both sexes have thick-ringed and lyre-shaped horns which are about 30- 40cm long. They’re among the fastest antelopes in Africa. On your safari Uganda tour in Kidepo Valley National Park, topis are spotted within the Narus valley as you’re on a game drive.

  1. Greater Kudus- Tragelaphus Strepsiceros

The greater kudu is a woodland antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. It’s one of the 2 species commonly known as kudu, the other being the Lesser kudu. The greater kudus have a narrow body and are one of the tallest antelopes with the largest horns in the bushbuck tribe, averaging 120cm in length.

They’ve got a handsome grey-brown coat, marked by thin white side stripes, and a white tail tipped with a black underside. The males have small dewlap and large spiraling horns, plus a beard that runs along their throats.

During the daytime, greater kudus usually cease to be active and rest under woodlands, especially on hot days. They mostly feed and drink during the early morning hours and afternoon. On your Uganda wildlife safari in Kidepo park, they can be spotted in the beautiful Kidepo valley near Kanangorok hot springs if lucky.

  1. Lesser Kudu- Tragelaphus Imberbis

Undeniably, Lesser kudus are among the most striking antelope species in Uganda. They’ve smaller horns than their larger cousins and have striking white patches on the upper and lower parts of the neck. Although both species are bluish-grey, greyish-brown, or rust color, the lesser kudus are smaller and have 5- 6 more lateral white stripes.

Both species have a crest of long hair along the spine however, Lesser kudus have no bearded throat. Facial markings consist of black stripes running from each eye towards the nose, and a white stripe from each eye to the center of the face. It’s only males having horns. In the wild, the Lesser kudus can live for about 10 years and 15 years in captivity.

If lucky, they can be spotted in the Kidepo valley region just near Kanangorok hot springs.

  1. Mountain Reedbuck- Redunca Fulvorufula

A mountain reedbuck is small shy antelope (30- 32kg) found in sub-Sahara Africa. It mainly occupies areas with ridges and hillsides in the rocky country and high-altitude grasslands. It has a grey coat with a white underbelly and reddish-brown head and shoulders. Males have ridged horns which curve forwards.

Both sexes have a dark scent patch beneath the ears. In Kidepo national park, it can be spotted around Lumej Hills.

  1. Bohor Reedbuck- Redunca Redunca

A bohor reedbuck is a beautiful sturdily built antelope with a yellowish to greyish brown coat (yellower than other reedbuck species). It has white undersides, plus white markings under the tail. Males only have horns that extend backward from the forehead and hook slightly forward.

You can spot them while on a game drive in the Narus valley area.

  1. Oribis- Ourebia Ourebi

An Oribi is a small antelope (12- 22kg) possessing a slightly raised back, long neck and limbs. They’ve got a glossy yellowish to rufous-brown coat with a white chin, throat, underparts and rump plus a black large sound glandular patch below each ear.

Only males grow horns which are slender and upright, ridged to about halfway up the ends being smooth and pointed. It can be spotted while on a game drive in Narus valley.

  1. Common Warthog- Phacochoerus Africanus

The common warthog is a wild member of the pig family commonly found in savannah and woodlands in sub-Saharan Africa. Warthogs weigh on average over 45- 150kg. They’re identified by their incredible 2 pairs of tusks that protrude out of the mouth, curving upwards. Their tusks are used for fighting other hogs and in defense against predators.

Their head is large, with a mane down the spine to the middle of the back. They’ve sparse hair covering the body, usually black or brown and have a long tail that ends with a tuft of hair. You can spot it in Narus valley.

  1. Bushpigs- Potamochoerus Larvatus

The bushpig is a member of the pig family that inhabits forests, woodland, riverine vegetation and cultivated areas. Bushpigs resemble domestic pigs however, they can be identified by their blunt muscular snouts, small eyes, and pointed tufted ears. Boars usually weigh about 60-80kg while sows weigh over 45-70kg.

Their color varies from reddish brown to dark brown. They’ve got a lighter-colored mane which erects when the animal is tense. The upper parts of the face and ears are also lighter in color. Though appearing on the animal checklist of Kidepo Valley National Park, they’re rarely spotted due to their nocturnal habits.

Other Herbivores Animals In Kidepo National Park

These include:

  1. Klipspringer
  2. Dik-dik
  3. Hares
  4. Pangolins
  5. Squirrels such as the African tree squirrel and the giant squirrel
  6. Porcupines for example, the East African crested porcupine
  7. Rats such as cane rats, langer cane rats, striped grass mice, harsh-furred rats, unstriped grass mice, common swamp rats, etc.

Primates In Kidepo National Park

Over 5 primate species have been spotted in Kidepo national park and they include the following:

  1. Patas Monkey- Erythrocebus Patas

A patas monkey is mainly a ground-dwelling monkey. It can easily be confused with the vervet monkey, however, for it, it has long limbs, a light reddish-brown coat, and a black stripe above the eyes. Assuredly, patas monkeys are the fastest primates on earth running over 55 km/h.

While on your safari in Uganda Kidepo national park, if lucky, patas monkeys can be spotted in the rolling plains of the Narus valley.

  1. Olive Baboons- Papio Anubis

Olive baboons are large and heavily built monkeys with sturdy limbs. Baboons have green-grey fur, and their faces look scary due to their doglike pointed muzzles and powerful jaws with long pointed canine teeth. Both sexes weigh about 10-37kg and on average, males have about 24kg and some can go up to 50kg.

Baboons live in groups of about 15- 150 individuals– made up of a few males, many females, and their young ones. Baboons can live in a range of environments and in Kidepo park, they can be spotted in Narus valley.

  1. Vervet Monkeys- Chlorocebus Pygerythrus

Vervet monkeys are good-looking monkeys, easily identified by their black faces with a white fringe of hair while their overall hair color is mostly grizzled-grey. Males can easily be recognized by a turquoise-blue scrotum. You can spot them while on nature walks in the montane forests of Lonyili Mountain between Kitgum and the southern border of southern Sudan.

  1. Black And White Colobus Monkeys- Colobus

A black and white colobus monkey is species of old-world monkey. It’s an amazing-looking monkey easily identified by its distinctive black body, white facial markings, long white tail, and a white side stripe. They mainly live in groups of about 3-15 individuals.

Amazingly, an adult black and white colobus monkey is capable of jumping up to 30m, an incredible sight with its white tail trailing behind. They can be seen while on nature walks through the montane forests of Lonyili Mountain.

  1. Red-Tailed Monkeys- Cercopithecus Ascanius

Red-tailed monkeys have a black or dark-grey bodies however, they’re named after their red tail. These monkeys are easily identified due to their amazing appearance with white cheek whiskers, a coppery tail, and a distinctive white heart-shaped patch on their nose, giving rise to its more vivid alternative name of black-cheeked white-nosed monkey.

They’re social primates living in groups of about 7-30 individuals consisting of one dominant male, females, and their offspring. In Kidepo Valley National Park, they can be spotted while on montane forest walks in Lonyili Mountain.

Reptiles In Kidepo Valley National Park Uganda

Numerous reptile species have been recorded in Kidepo national park however, they’re rarely encountered. These include the following:

  1. Pygmy Crocodiles- Osteolaemus Tetraspis

The pygmy crocodile is also called the African dwarf crocodile (dwarf crocodile). It is the smallest living species of crocodile in Uganda, endemic to Kidepo Valley National Park. Its average length is 1.5m and weighs between 18- 32kg.

Adult pygmy crocodiles are all dark above and on their sides, while their underside is yellowish with black patches. If lucky, it can be spotted in the Narus valley area with the guidance of the park ranger.

Other Reptiles In Kidepo National Park

These include:

  1. Snakes such as the puff adder, green mambas, black mambas, Gabon viper, spitting cobra, slender green snake, boom slang (tree snake), and file snake.
  2. Lizards like the blue-bodied Agama, snake lizard, and common house lizard.
  3. Geckos counting the blue-bodied agama black-throated dwarf gecko, and Uganda house gecko.
  4. Tortoises for example, soft-shelled turtles, and western-hinged tortoises.
  5. Chameleons such as the bright green chameleon, the smaller chameleon, and the pigmy chameleon.
  6. Skinks for example the red and black skink, side-striped skink, speckled-lipped skink, grey-black limbless skink, etc.
  7. Frogs such as the bullfrog, clawed frog (plat hander), sharp-nosed frog, and tree frog, etc.

Conclusion

Arguably, Kidepo national park has the most diverse savannah fauna of any national park in Uganda. The park is particularly rich in predators, counting lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals, bat-eared foxes, black-backed and side-striped jackals etc.

Other amazing Kidepo valley national park animals include herds of buffalos, giraffes, antelope species like Jackson’s hartebeest, topis, greater and lesser kudus, elands, Uganda kobs, Bohor reedbuck, oribis, klipspringers plus numerous primate species counting the patas monkey, etc.

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FAQs About Animals In Kidepo Valley National Park

  1. Are there elephants in Kidepo?

Kidepo national park is a paradise for Uganda wildlife safaris as it offers the best sightings of elephants, lions, and leopards, plus over 1,000 buffaloes in the rolling golden plains of Narus valley. It’s the only park in Uganda to spot the cheetahs, caracals, aardwolves, bat-eared foxes, plus greater and lesser kudus.

  1. What Animals Are In Kidepo? | Which Animals Are Found In Kidepo National Park?

Kidepo Valley National Park is home to over 77 mammal species including 4 of the African safari big five except rhinos. Other Kidepo Valley National Park animals include zebra herds, Rothschild giraffes, black-backed and side-backed jackals, numerous antelopes like elands, Jackson’s hartebeests, greater and lesser kudus, topis, mountain reedbucks, oribis, etc.

  1. How Many Lions Are In Kidepo?

Kidepo national game park is among the national parks in Uganda boasting a healthy population of lions. The park holds over 132 lions total, best spotted in the golden plains of Narus valley.

  1. Why Are There No Hippos In Kidepo National Park?

Though Kidepo National park holds a total of over 77 mammal species, it’s the only savannah park in Uganda without hippos. This is probably due to the aridity of the area characterized by high temperatures rising to 400C, unfavorable to the hippo.

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