Flora and Fauna of Uganda

Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, is known for its splendor, natural wonders, and amazing people. Uganda has a wealth of unexploited natural resources and showcases a varied collection of habitats, landscapes and vegetation from open wooded savannah forest and acacia woodlands, tropical forest, riparian forests, montane forests, rocky outcrops, grasslands, marshes, sweeping valleys, craggy hills, bush thickets, and extensive wetlands. All these varied vegetation hosts abundant wildlife, primates, and birdlife.

Being close to the equator and its location on the great African plateau gives it a remarkable biological and physical diversity. Uganda has a consistently tropical hot climate and the temperatures are quite uniform throughout the year. Temperatures are also affected by the wide variation in altitude across the country.

The presence of Lake Victoria provides moisture to the south, thus induces precipitation in the western shores. Without this lake, it would be dry and arid throughout the year. However, most regions receive between 1000mm to 2000mm of rainfall annually.

Uganda flora and fauna

What is the vegetation of Uganda?

Geographically, Uganda is generally a flat plateau with an altitude of above 900m in most parts of the country with numerous small hills and valleys and extensive savanna plains. Vegetation in Uganda is extremely diverse, a result of the different microclimates of the country. Vegetation zones can be roughly classified according to the rainfall/ climatic zones;

  • Lake region
  • Northern Region
  • Highlands of the Southeast

Vegetation is heaviest in the south and typically becomes wooded savannah in central and northern Uganda. In the highlands southwest, however, cultivation is intensive even on the high mountain slopes. There are, however, scattered patches of thick forest or of elephant grass and mvuli trees, providing excellent timber.

The cooler western highlands contain a higher proportion of long grass and forest. In the drier northern region, short grasses appear, and there are areas of open woodland; thorn trees and Borassus palms also grow.

Savannah grasslands cover most of Uganda but vary in different regions depending on the altitude and temperatures. Southwest may be wooded, shrubby to the north, or dry to the northeast. Savannah habitat is dominated by grassland dotted with Borassus palms, woodland with forest patches.

Uganda woody area

The woody vegetation is dominated by acacia-dotted savanna species, Olea and Boscia species. Forest savannah mosaic vegetation is scattered throughout the country in areas close to water bodies. The forest vegetation has high amounts of evapotranspiration increasing the rainfall around the region. The forest vegetation lessens soil erosion, flooding and ensures that streams continue to flow in the dry season.

Uganda is a cradle of mountain thus mountain vegetation will be found in the country such as in Rwenzori mountains and in the Mount Elgon region. Budongo forest, in Murchison Falls National Park, is the largest natural mahogany forest with ironwood trees

Hygrophilous vegetation thrives in highly humid areas, lining near the Great Lakes such as papyrus swamp and narrow bands of lush riparian woodland.

The vegetation of Uganda’s parks

Lake Mburo National Park

Lake Mburo is dominated by a grassy escarpment rising above a shoreline fringed with acacia forest and the closed canopy tropical Rubanga forest. On the western margin of the park, it is dominated with savanna with rocky ridges and forested gorges while many lakes are lined with patches of papyrus swamps. On the north and east, grasslands between hills seeping through expanses of wetland into the lake. While on the eastern margin, you will find rock kopjes.

A Uganda Lake

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

The vegetation of Bwindi is thick, with its many shades of green, making it rightfully deserve the title Impenetrable. The impenetrable forest is tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests and is biologically rich and is important for the conservation of the Afromontane fauna, especially species endemic to the western rift valley’s mountains. The topography is very rugged, with narrow valleys intersected by rivers and steep hills. The park has more than 220 tree species, 1,000 flowering plant species, and more than 100 fern species including the threatened brown mahogany and Brazzeia longipedicellata.

Queen Elizabeth National Park

Queen Elizabeth National Park has a massive variety of habitats including the savanna grassland, beautiful crater lakes, swamps, tropical rainforest. However, it has five levels of vegetation in the different sectors; bushy grassland, Acacia woodland, Lakeshore or swamp vegetation and forest grassland. The vegetation is a variety consisting of mostly thickets of small trees including acacias, Capparis tomentosa and Dichrostachys cinerea and evergreens.  The park’s grasslands harbors wildlife, forest grassland harbors primates. Kabatoro gate has a chunky ground cover with dense vegetation dominated by candelabra thorn that makes game viewing a challenge.

The open savannah plains are on the western shores of the adjacent stunning Lake George, just near to the area where the Kazinga Channel confluences with this lake. Fringes of Vossia cuspidata with shrubs such as Aeschynomene have developed at lake shores.

Kidepo National Park

Kidepo National Park is situated in the dry Karamoja region in northwest Uganda with great savanna landscapes and rising mountains in the background.

Uganda forests

Kibale National Park

This evergreen rain forest park is located near the Fort Portal in the Western part of Uganda, east of the Rwenzori Mountains. Some endangered timber species of trees include Cordial millennia, Entandrophragma Angolans, and Lovoa swynnertonnii. The forest understory is dominated by shade-tolerant shrubs and herbs, which include Palisota schweinfurthii and Pollia condensata, in addition to ferns and broad leaf grasses.

Semuliki National Park

The fairly flat park contains the tropical lowland forest, a hot spring area, and is home to a variety of wildlife and birds.

Rwenzori National Park

This snow-capped mountain range includes an astonishing range of landscapes, from the bizarre afro-alpine moorland to the thick tropical rainforest on the lower slopes and lastly the glaciers at the highest altitudes.

Montane woodland is an open forest with dense ground cover. The bamboo zone, found between 1,800m and 3,300m, covers about 60% of the park and is the favoured habitat of larger mammals. The main montane forest tree species grow up to the altitude of 3,200m and are used for medicines. Ground cover is composed of grasses, mosses, lichen and liverwort.

The subalpine zone is divided into two, the moorland zone and the Afromontane belt. Neither zone has trees; vegetation consists of ground plants capable of enduring extreme conditions thus mammals are rare.


The highest altitudes are home to the giant senecio and lobelia. At these altitudes of over 3,000m there is less rainfall as the area is above regular cloud level.

Examples of vegetation species

The rare germs of trees, shrubs and grasses of Uganda have uses ranging from cultural, construction and industrial.

  • Candelabra trees are found near the equator, growing to 30 to 40 feet tall. The branches all grow from one trunk and look like little cactuses that grow near the top, giving it the shape of a candelabra. It has little beautiful yellow flowers but poisonous, of which, if a drop of the white sap from the inner tree comes in contact with the skin a blister will form or even blind you. It has sticky poisonous latex along with its sharp spines makes it so animals don’t feed on it.
  • Elephant grass is a species of perennial tropical grass native to the African grasslands. It has low water and nutrient requirements or input and therefore can make use of otherwise uncultivated lands.  It is tall and forms in robust bamboo-like clumps and is a heterozygous plant.
  • Acacia Seyal also known as red acacia or shittah tree is a thorny, 610 m high tree with a pale greenish or reddish bark. At the base of the feathery leaves, there are two straight, light grey thorns. They commonly grow on heavy clay soils, in damp valleys.
  • Eucalyptus takes over 10 years to mature. Many hybrid Eucalyptus clones form the basis of both large and small scale, commercial planting programmes.
  • Baikiaea Insignis  is commonly known as Nkobakoba or Nkoba, is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It is found in the South Buddu forests of Uganda.
  • Acacia Nilotica grows around the banks of the Nile and has high with a dense spheric crown, stems and branches usually dark to black coloured, fissured bark, grey-pinkish slash, exuding a reddish low-quality gum. The tree has thin, straight, light, grey spines in axillary pairs.

flora and fauna uganda

Other plant species include;

  • Prunus Africana (Red stinkwood)
  • Cycad, Santalum album (sandalwood)
  • Annona senegalisis (wild custard apple)
  • Cordia millenii (drum tree)
  • Azadiracha indica (Neem)
  • Butyrospermum paradoxum (Shear butter)
  •  Cajanas cajana (Pigeon pea)
  • Jatropha curcas (pig nut, fig nut, physic nut)
  • Kigelia Africana (sausage tree)
  • Borassus aethiopum (Borassus palm)
  • Tamarindus indica (tamarind)
  • Vitex doniana (black plum)
  • Olea europea (brown olive, wild olive).

Nature lovers who visit Uganda love the wide variety of plant life that Uganda has to offer, from mvuli trees and elephant grass of the plateau to dry thorn scrubs, acacia trees, and euphorbia shrubs of the northeast, as well as papyrus in swamps, which surround many of the country’s lakes.

If you would like to discover Uganda for yourself, contact us today.


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