Albertine Rift

Endemic Species

An ‘Endemic Species’ is one that is only found in that region and nowhere else in the world. As such they are of conservation concern because they are not widespread and may be confined to only one or two protected areas. The Albertine Rift has more endemic species of vertebrate than any other region of mainland Africa. Until 2003 complete lists of endemic species had not been completed and WCS worked with other scientists and conservation organizations to complete these lists. Since that time they have been updated over time as more species have been added to the endemic or threatened lists. These are presented here for each taxon (Mammals, Birds, Reptiles, Amphibians, Butterflies and Dragonflies) for which we have compiled data.


41 species of endemic mammal are found in the Rift. Many of these are small mammals such as shrews, rats and bats. A few of the larger ones include the Rwenzori duiker (Cephalophus rubidus) which only occurs at high altitudes in the Rwenzori massif and the Golden monkey (Cercopithecus kandti) which is confined to the Virunga Volcanoes. A few larger mammals are near-endemic species, such as L’hoest’s guenon (Cercopithecus l’hoesti). A list of the endemic and near endemic mammals is provided in the table below. The IUCN classification is given (CR=Critically endangered; EN=endangered; VU=vulnerable; DD=data deficient; NT=near threatened). AR=Albertine Rift endemic; NE=near-endemic species. A list of endemic species can be downloaded here.


A total of 42 species of bird are endemic to the Albertine Rift. This list combines two of Birdlife International’s endemic bird areas (Albertine Rift and Eastern Zairean Lowlands) because there is overlap in the distribution of some of these species.  The newly described Willard’s Sooty Boubou has been added here because the only known specimens are from the Albertine Rift but more research is needed on this species. A list of endemic species can be downloaded here.


Nineteen reptile species have been classified as endemic to the Albertine Rift with a further three near-endemic. Seven of these are Chamaeleons and six Skinks. Few snakes are endemic to this region. A list of endemic species can be downloaded here.


At least 38 amphibians are endemic to the Albertine Rift. Many of these species have some form of IUCN classification as they are considered threatened or little is known about their distribution. A list of endemic species can be downloaded here.


A total of 117 endemic butterfly species have been identified and published as a butterfly checklist by Dr Tim Davenport, WCS Country Director for Tanzania. This list is the first to attempt to define endemic butterflies in the Albertine Rift.


A list of endemic dragonflies for the Albertine Rift has been created by  Klaas-Douwe B. Dijkstra (Gortestraat 11, 2311 MS Leiden, The Netherland) – his summary is given here:


Thirteen species are endemic to the Albertine Rift (AR). A number of species has been recorded further east into Uganda (→EU), sometimes as far as Kakamega or Mt Elgon in western Kenya (→WK), or in adjacent northeastern or southeastern DRC (→ND/SD). These fourteen species are listed as near endemics (NE). Those that have been found in adjacent areas on both sides of the AR are not included, although their headquarters lie in the region (40 species altogether, including the (near) endemics). For reference, Uganda has about 230 species in total. Four AR/NE species are undescribed; one was only described in 2004. Many of the species are only known from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP). Because only Uganda has been fairly well studied, this suggests that known species will be found in more AR forests and also that new ones will be discovered. The IUCN classifications are preliminary and may change slightly in the forthcoming Red List. A list of endemic species can be downloaded here.


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Albertine Rift Program
Plot 802 Kiwafu Rd, Kansanga, PO Box 7487, Kampala, Uganda

Key Staff

Andrew Plumptre
Director Albertine Rift Program
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Partners Include

Museo Tridentino Di Scienze Naturali
The Field Museum, Chicago
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
University of Queensland