A nocturnal nature walk through the forest is a very different experience from witnessing it during the day. It's a unique opportunity to feel and see the wild mysteries the African jungle holds at night. In theory, it can be a little nerve-racking, thinking about walking into the dark and taking invisible steps into the unknown, but in reality, is way tamer. With large spotlights, comfortable gear, and safety precautions all put in mind, going on a night nature walk, you will see and hear lots of things that you usually wouldn’t see and hear during the day. While the other animals get comfortable sleep throughout the night, others wake up to start their activities.
After sunset, the mystery of the African rainforest deepens, as the stars of the night replace the day ones. The buzzing of insects, crickets, croaking toads, singing frogs and a host of other calls fill the forest, and your senses come alive as you try to spot as many of these mysterious creatures of the night.
Kibale Forest National Park is one of the best parks to go on a Nocturnal Nature walk. In no particular order, here are some animals you can view when you visit.
East African Potto in Kibale National Park
The East African Potto is a small primate with an average size of 13.7 inches, about 38.4 cm from head to the base of its tail with females who are about an inch shorter. They occupy an extensive range right in the heart of Africa. The bulk of their habitat is in D. R Congo, Central African Republic, and then spreads to Rwanda and Burundi in the south and then through central Uganda with a small portion located in the West of Kenya.
They occupy a variety of forested vegetation including montane, lowland, swamp, primary, secondary, riverine, disturbed, and colonized forests. Because of the recurring of such diverse vegetation, the East African Potto’s diet is also as varied. They are omnivorous animals that feast on invertebrates, insects, nectar, gum, and fruits as the bulk of their diet but they also feed on bird eggs and sometimes even small bats.
The East African Potto has a long slender body and tiny arrow-shaped head covered in brownish-gay fur. They have big round striking eyes, well adapted to view their prey or predators in the dark of the night. Its tiny wet nose is also adapted to sniff out prey while they move around the canopy of the forests.
They are solitary animals and are known to have special muscles in their body that allow them to remain motionless for hours when threatened until the predator moves away. It's not known how long they survive in the wild but this delicate creature can live for 20 years in captivity.
Prince Demidoff’s Bushbaby in Kibale National Park
Prince Demidoff’s Bushbaby also known as Demidoff’s Galago is Africa’s smallest primate. The species’ head and body measure only between 10cm and 13cm! Their tail takes most of the length, reaching twice their length of an average of 22 cm long. This little miniature bushbaby is surely one of the cutest primates you can see in Africa. Their colour varies from bright ginger colour to grey-brown to blend with the twilight and night colours of their nocturnal habitat. They have a white stripe that runs directly between their eyes down to their little noses.
Despite their size, the Galagos are well known for their massive leaps of more than 20 meters in the African forest canopies and the Demidoff’s galago is a Star at this. They have evolved to have longer legs that help them propel from branch to branch and their forelimbs help them with support and stability. They use both of these and their small size to maintain stability and equilibrium, where bigger predators wouldn't be able to get them.
Like all nocturnal animals, their vision is highly adapted for their nocturnal activities. This is a trait adapted for all nocturnal arboreal animals. They can see 80% better than us in the dark. They are highly insectivorous, with 70% of their diet being of caterpillars, beetles, and moths. Because of their little size, they don't have to vary their diet as much as bigger nocturnal creatures. They are perfect night hunters as they can detect movement using the amazing auditory and visual abilities they have evolved and developed. These little creatures are perfect hunters and have honed their visual and auditory abilities to capture prey right before the take-off! They locate, listen, look and adjust their ears like radars, and with their leaping abilities, they horn in directly to their prey, They also feed on gum, nectar, and ripe fruits.
Prince Demidoff’s Bushbaby is widely found from the Central to West of Africa, living in primary and secondary Rain forests. In Uganda, this primate is well represented and there are high chances of finding this amazing little gem in Kibale National Park They love dense foliage living in the high canopy of up to 40 meters of trees, but can also be seen in secondary forests. In secondary forests, like the paths we will take in Kabale Forest, we can find them in bush vegetation, only a few meters from the ground, by the roadside. This little Gem is surely a sight to behold on an African Night Safari.
Thomas Bushbaby in Kibale National Park
The Thomas Galago is almost alike Demidoff’s Galago but is slightly bigger in body length from 12-20 cm and has a tail length of 27 cm. The Thomas Bushbay is also as adorable as their cousins, they are brownish grey, with grey underparts, and have distinctive dark eye patches and little narrow faces. Arguably the cutest primate in Africa.
The range of this miniature creature is varied, from the Western side of Côte d'Ivoire, Cameroon, D.R Congo, and Uganda, where it's the easiest place to see this Bushbaby.
Their habitat is similar to Demidoff’s Galago. They occupy primary, secondary, swampy, marshy woodland, and lowland highland forests. Like the Galagos family, they are great leapers and have adopted their auditory and sight skills to catch prey and escape from predators.
Like most arboreal creatures they are solitary, and definitely spend most of their active life in the dark. Families of mothers and kids can be seen sleeping together in a safe area during the day, but during the night, they split up to forage the forest individually.
The highlight of the night walk is definitely catching one of these nocturnal creatures leaping from branch to branch.