Mammals in Kidepo Valley National Park: Kidepo valley national park is a popular Uganda safari destination largely because of the large concentration of mammal species. In excess of 85 mammal species reside in Kidepo valley national park, 28 of which found nowhere else in other National Parks in Uganda. Kidepo valley national park is a unique habitat with semi arid climate. Some mammal species in Kidepo valley national park have unique characteristic of withstanding long drought periods associated with highest temperatures and no rainfall for long periods. Little wonder that there are no hippos; chief amphibian mammal species, in Kidepo valley national park.
The vegetation withers and dies natural death. Most mammals have unique body defense mechanisms that make them survive for long periods under drastic conditions. Some mammals take keen interest in diet that has high concentration in proteins and energy when food is plenty and stored in form of body fat. Others have long fur that insulates their bodies against high temperatures and reduces dehydration through perspiration.
Most herbivores migrate to valleys that have patches of oases with remnants of fresh grass while others change their feeding routine grazing late evening and early morning. Some pregnant herbivores have a body mechanism that postpones delivery of curves to the rainy season when there is enough grass to graze and get enough milk to suckle the calves and provide cover for concealment from predators. Note that some of the herbivorous species in semi arid conditions have a unique characteristic of splitting in small herds and spread the entire of Kidepo valley national park to get access to survival resources during the dry season.
In the same way, the carnivorous predators follow the trends preferring to hunt with more tact laying ambushes near watering holes, stalking prey with accurate concealment. All the mammals improvise ways of survival in hard dry conditions until the coming rainy season. To add salt to an injury, the dry season coincides with wildfires that raze the Kidepo plains indiscriminately in an instant decimating some disabled, pregnant, infants or many other caught by some misfortune. Much of Kidepo valley national park looks desolate and mammal species tensed up. To many mammal species in Kidepo valley national park, cloudy skies that signify the rainy season are a festival for the eyes. This is an alert call for end of drought, enough water to drink, reduced heat, growth of fresh pasture and boom in the population densities of herbivores. Ultimately, to the carnivorous predators, the rainy season marks boom in the population of prey, proper cover to conceal in while launching attacks and enough diet to nourish their starved bodies. The entire wildlife in the Kidepo valley national park is alive and agog.
Kidepo valley national park is the only possible safari destination in Uganda to spot cheetah, aardwolf, Guenther’s dik-dik (Madoqua guentheri), striped hyena, caracal, greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros), lesser kudu (Ammelaphus imberbis), klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), Chandler’s mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula chandleri) and Bright’s gazelle (Nanger granti brighti). There are also other mammals common in other Uganda safaris destinations; African elephant (Loxodonta africana), zebras (Equus spp.), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), back-backed jackal(Canis mesomelas), waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus), Jackson’s hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus jacksoni), lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), side-striped jackal (Canis adustus), eland, giraffe, oribi, warthog, impalas, Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus),bat-eared fox, reedbuck, roan antelope amongst many others.
Black and white rhinos roamed the Kidepo valley national park plains in the past, but are extinct due to poaching and hunting. Travelers on game viewing safaris into Kidepo valley national have high opportunities of spotting a large collection of unique mammal species than anywhere in Uganda. Most of the time the vegetation cover is short, the terrain is flat and open giving travelers on tour of Uganda a wide range of opportunities to spot game at a distance.