Animals and wildlife in Kidepo National Park include over 77 mammal species. 4 of the Big Five are present (no rhino). Kidepo also shelters many species that cannot be seen in other Uganda safaris parks such as cheetah, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, kudu, caracal and black-baked jackal.
The park also has an alluring checklist of almost 500 bird species, and it is the only Ugandan stronghold for the likes of ostriches and secretary birds.
Kidepo is found in the far northeast of Uganda and has a true wilderness feel. It is possibly the most remote safari destination in East Africa. It is also one of the most beautiful. The park is characterized by two regions. The Narus Valley hosts the most wildlife in Kidepo duet to its permanent water sources. The drier Kidepo Valley has less wildlife, but it has a wild beauty.
In terms of the best time visit Kidepo, we’d recommend the Dry season (September to March), when large animals tend to gather around permanent water sources. And, when adventuring on your safari, opt for early morning or early evening for prime animal viewing.
The Table Below Is A Quick Guide To The Most Likely Animals You’ll See In Kidepo National Park And The Frequency Of Sightings:
|African Wild Dog||Very Rare|
What Animals Will You See On A Wildlife Safari In Kidepo National Park?
1. Cape Buffalos
Buffalos are unpredictable members of the Big 5 animals of Africa. They are some of the most dangerous animals on Earth, though you’d never think so looking at them.
Big indeed, these cow-like animals are often misunderstood as docile, but, the Cape buffalo is far from it. Their heavily bossed horns, heavy weight and staggering speed are just a few of the reasons these animals in Kidepo have very few predators.
Where Can You See Buffalo in Kidepo?
Encountering a herd of buffalo is a rather common occurrence on Uganda wildlife safaris in Kidepo. The park has some of the biggest buffalo herds in Africa with numbers in one herd reaching over 1000!
Buffalos tend to spend most of their time grazing and mud bathing on the swamps in the Narus Valley but there are a number of individuals, mostly older males known as ‘dagga boys’, who spend their time around the Kidepo savannah lodge.
2. African Bush Elephants
These gentle giants are very sophisticated creatures that live in tightly knit family units.
The largest and oldest females serve as the leaders of this family unit. If you are ever threatened when watching a herd of elephants, it is likely that the aggressor will be an older female protecting her family unit. Most of the time elephants are gentle.
At the first indication of danger, elephants will huddle together and place the calves in the center of the adult herd. Depending on the reaction of the threat, the herd will either retreat or the largest matriarch female will put on a show to intimidate the intruder.
During the display, the demonstrating elephant will spread her ears wide and shake her head dramatically from side to side. Sometimes, a dummy charge will follow accompanied by loud trumpeting. This tactic usually works as there are not many natural things on Earth that are more intimidating than a large, angry, charging elephant!
Where Can You See Elephant in Kidepo National Park?
Elephants in Kidepo can be seen during the game drives in Narus valley. Kidepo elephant population has surged from around 200 in the mid 1990’s to between 650 and 1000 today.
3. Spotted Hyena
No safari is complete without falling asleep to the laugh-like whoops of the hyena.
They may sound playful, but don’t be fooled. These scavenger animals in Kidepo National Park can be fierce when they choose to be! Kidepo is primarily occupied by the spotted hyena, who can be identified by their polka-dot-like coat consisting of brown spots.
Where Can You See Spotted Hyena in Kidepo?
If you’re on the hunt for a hyena, you’re most likely guaranteed to get a dual sighting of a larger predator in tow – given that hyenas are never far from a kill.
They’re opportunists. And will remain on the move throughout the evening until they find a carcass to call their own. As such, they’re mainly in areas where you can expect to see lion.
4. Rothschild’s Giraffe
Nature’s rather awkward supermodel, the long-legged giraffe is a truly amazing creature.
The world’s tallest animals, giraffes are characterized by their long purple tongues, brown patches and antler-like horns. Kidepo is an important refuge for the rare Rothschild’s giraffe, which has bred up to more than 50 individuals from a bottleneck mid-1990s population of three, supplement by another 3 translocate from Kenya.
Also to provide a boost for the population, an additional 15 giraffes were translocated to the park from Murchison Falls National Park.
Where Can You See Giraffe in Kidepo?
Giraffes can be encountered in the Narus Valley of Kidepo National Park.
No animal checklist would be complete without mentioning the King of African Jungle.
From their incredible roar that travels kilometers to the surprising size of their muscular bodies, lions are a part of the Big 5 animals for many a reason. Seeing a lion resting under a tree in the late afternoon is a magical sight in itself, but catching a pride of lions during a kill is an experience you will never forget, should you be lucky enough to witness it.
Where Can You See Lion in Kidepo?
Kidepo National Park is home to around 190 lions. Lions in here are often seen on the park’s trademark granite outcrops which they use as lookout points.
6. Common Ostrich
Kidepo is also the only place in Uganda where bird enthusiasts can encounter the majesty of the Common Ostrich. The ostrich is the biggest feathered creature on the planet.
It is also the holder of many other records. For example, Ostriches are the fastest birds on land and can reach a speed of 70kmh. This is not only the fastest land speed of any bird, and the fastest of any two-legged creature, but also faster than most birds can fly.
The eggs of an ostrich are the largest of any bird, weighing up to 1.4kg. Nonetheless, they are the smallest eggs of any bird in relation to their body size.
Where Can You See Ostrich in Kidepo?
Ostriches can be seen in Kidepo Valley in the thicket bush that surrounds the Kanangorok Hotsprings. Here, you can also see several other unique birds like Secretary birds, Jackson’s horn bills, and Speckle fronted weavers.
7. Plains Zebras
Kidepo is home to the Plains Zebra. These beautiful and spirited horses of Africa are characterised by the black and white stripes all over its body that begin to fade on the legs.
Zebras are mostly seen in broad daylight, but at night, dawn and dusk – the hours when most predation occurs – the stripes seem to blend and zebras become well camouflaged in the dark shadows and glinting moonlight. Watching a herd these brilliantly striped zebras march together across the plains is a remarkable natural spectacle that you will never forget.
Where Can You See Zebra in Kidepo?
Although zebras are one of the most common animals in Kidepo; they are primarily seen in the wide plains and vast grasslands of around Apoka Safari Lodge.
Black-backed and side-striped jackals are both present in Kidepo. These opportunistic canines are swift movers and fast thinkers, but they are also rather lovely to look at.
The black-backed jackal has a dark ‘saddle’ on its back with white flecks throughout, and has a small, fox-like snout. The side-striped jackal tends to be slightly larger on average than the black-backed jackal. And its sides are marked with a white stripe with black lower margins.
When they’re not trailing animals in Kidepo like lions to catch a bite of their leftover prey, they’re spending time with their significant other as jackals mate for life.
Where Can You See Jackals in Kidepo?
Jackals are extremely territorial, and often remain within the same small hunting radius. If you’ve sighted a jackal in a specific location while out on a game drive, chances are you will see it again nearby should you wish to return. They’re usually found where the big cats are.
9. Bat-Eared Foxes
The bat-eared fox is a small, endearing creature that closely resembles a jackal and is from the same family. Their silver-grey coat and large, bat-like ears are their most noticeable features. Bat-eared foxes are often found in tiny groups that only consist of a mated pair and their pups. This is because bat-eared foxes are monogamous mammals by nature.
Where Can You See Bat-Eared Foxes in Kidepo?
Bat-eared foxes are likely found in drier regions of Kidepo Valley.
Kidepo is home to both lesser and Greater Kudus. Kudu are a species of large woodland antelope native to southern and eastern Africa. Given that they’re browsers, Kudu are usually found making their way through the thick brush – so much so that they are often missed when out on safari.
Their incredible spiral horns, white-striped ‘face paint’ and large ears are all unique identifying features of these animals of Kidepo National Park.
Where Can You See Kudu in Kidepo?
The thicket bush around Kanangorok hotsprings in Kidepo Valley is where you can see these animals. Kudus also choose these areas to shield themselves from the watchful eyes of predators.
The cheetah, the fastest mammal on Earth, is indeed a sight many hope to see while on safari in Africa. Often camouflaged by the tall savanna-style grass where they choose to frequent, these beautiful big cats are easy to miss in Kidepo if you are not keeping a watchful eye.
Whether you are lucky enough to spot one on the hunt, or simply on the move between the grasslands, watching a cheetah in its natural habitat is a sight you won’t soon forget.
Where Can You See Cheetah in Kidepo?
Wide, open plains with lots of room to run and hunt are the primary playground of cheetahs. Clearings where they can remain concealed below the grass while still watching for prey are where these big cats are likely to be.
Stumbling upon one of these elusive big cats is a dream many have when going on safari. Look too quick and you may just miss the shy leopard stalking through the trees towards its prey.
Moving smooth as water, this spectacular big cat is a sight you will remember long after your safari is over, and one most only have the chance of receiving a few times in their lifetime.
Where Can You See Leopard in Kidepo?
Leopards love wooded areas with an abundance of tall trees where they can rest and hide their prey, as well as rivers to refresh and stalk. Because they are so rare to spot, they prefer to remain in areas where onlookers and the sound of cars are far less.
13. African Wild Dogs | Painted Wolves
Also known as Painted Wolves, the rare Africa wild dogs are a mere dream sighting for most.
While they are pack animals, being able to see even just one wild dog while on an African safari is extremely rare, but, should you be lucky enough to have a viewing of these animals in Kidepo National Park, you will remember it for the rest of your life.
Where Can You See Wild Dog in Kidepo?
Wild dogs are very rare to see in Kidepo. But on 27th June 2023, Conservation and tourism circles in Uganda were thrilled with talk of wild dog sightings in Kidepo’s in Narus Valley. This confirmed sighting is the first after a long absence from Uganda since the wild dogs 1980s.
Made famous by the character Pumba in the Lion King, the endearing Warthog is a commonly seen animal in Kidepo National Park. These funny little animals resemble pigs.
They feed on their knees and run away with their tails sticking straight up in the air when startled. But don’t let their cute appearance fool you completely – the tusks on a male warthog can rip open a lion. Warthogs are usually seen grazing or running in family groups with 2-4 young. Older male warthogs may become solitary over time.
Where Can You See Warthog in The Kruger?
Warthogs are big mud lovers, and remain in nearby marshy areas and watering holes. Their diet of choice is also grass, so they are most commonly found in the savanna-style plains of the Narus Valley in Kidepo.
15. Common Eland
The eland is the largest antelope in the world – much bigger than your average cow – and was once prevalent throughout Africa, found in nearly every corner of the continent. Today, it is a rare occurrence to see eland in Uganda due to its dwindling population. Be sure to cherish the moment if you are one of the lucky few who spots this huge beast in its natural habitat.
Different Ways To See Animals In Kidepo Valley National Park
1. Game Drives
The most common method of viewing wildlife in Kidepo is going on guided game drives. Game drives are the best way to explore the far reaches of the park within a short space of time.
Most game drives in Kidepo follow two 20km routes through the wildlife-rich Narus Valley. Here, a small amount of water remains even in the dry season, attracting large buffalo herds, thirsty elephants, and antelope.
A gathering of herbivores attracts predators, allowing you to see a range of beautiful animals. In the hot, dry season, game drives depart in the early morning and late afternoon.
This allows you to witness the animals in their most active state and capture memories when the light is best for photography. The drier Kidepo Valley has less wildlife, but it has a wild beauty. This is the best place for ostrich, secretary bird and kudu.
2. Nature Walks
Most of the nature walk trails in Kidepo Valley National Park take 2 to 3 hours and wind their way through the Narus Valley. The walk through the Narus Valley is very popular as its short 5km radius is comfortable for most visitors.
It gives you ample opportunity to see an abundance of magnificent mammals and birds within the backdrop of a stunning landscape.
Birders will often patrol the fringes of the Narus and Namukwweny Valleys looking for the;
- Abyssinian Roller
- Purple Heron
- Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
- Clapperton’s Francolin, which is found only in Kidepo.
Read more about the things to do in Kidepo Valley National Park
Ready To See The Wildlife Of Kidepo For Yourself?
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