The small size of many African protected areas makes adjacent rangelands potentially important in the local survival of wild animals. In order to assess the importance of pastoral areas to wild ungulates, we studied density and habitat choice of wild ungulates and cattle in Lake Mburo National Park, Uganda, the adjacent exclusively pastoral Nshara Dairy Ranch and on private land consisting of a mixture of ranching and subsistence farms. Transects, in the three land-use zones, were walked during the wet season and the data were analysed by DISTANCE sampling technique. We found significantly higher total density of wild ungulates on the dairy ranch compared with the National Park and private land. There was no significant difference in total wild animal density between the National Park and private land. Impala (Aepyceros melampus), zebra (Equus quagga), bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) had significantly higher densities on the dairy ranch compared to the National Park. Only eland (Taurotragus oryx) density was higher in the National Park compared to private land. Wild ungulates and cattle showed a high degree of habitat overlap, generally preferring open grassland. Our study shows that high densities of wild ungulates are not necessarily associated with protected areas. Pastoral areas may be important for populations of wild herbivores during the growing season despite a pronounced presence of livestock.