Uganda Murchison Falls National Park: Giraffe translocation
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has started the process of translocation of 20 giraffes from the northern to the southern sector of Murchison Falls National Park.
Two giraffes will also be moved to the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) in Entebbe.
While flagging off of the exercise at UWA headquarters last Friday, the acting executive director of UWA, Nightingale Mirembe said the three-week-long exercise is intended to expand the range of giraffes in light of the oil and gas activities on the northern bank of the park where they currently range.
“UWA is not certain about the likely impact of oil developments. It’s, therefore, reasonable that as a conservation institution we do not take chances but put in place reasonable measure to save the small population still existing in Uganda,” she explained.
Mirembe added that this will also help to establish viable, free-ranging giraffe population on the south bank of the park to enhance ecosystem balance and utilization.
She also said the exercise is aimed at boosting tourism on the southern sector of the Nile and increase revenue for conservation activities.
“Our aim is to enhance the long term survival of the species, restore natural biodiversity and long-term economic benefits to the local and national economy.”
This shall be a further boost to tourism in the southern following the reopening of the old ‘Honeymoon game track late last year in the Southern sector of Murchison Falls National Park after twenty years of neglect.
There are several concessionaires located within this sector including Sambiya River Lodge, Murchison Lodge, Nile Safari Camp, Bakers Lodge, Kabalega Wilderness Camp, Red Chili Camp and Budongo Eco-Lodge.
They are keen to draw more tourists to this sector where chimpanzee tracking, bird watching and Samuel Bakers trail to the top of the falls are the major draw cards in the luxuriant Budongo Forest. James Musinguzi, the executive director UWEC, said the move would promote conservation education and awareness at the center through enhanced wildlife species diversity in a quick-to –reach tourism area.
“The 2 giraffes that have been donated to us will be part of the exhibit that will be used in community education and awareness with particular interest in the enhancement of conservation knowledge of young school going children,” he explained.
The UGX 200 million ($60,000) exercise was partly funded by UWA internally generated revenue and support from other partner institutions including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF). The executive director of GCF, Julian Fennessy, revealed that they chose to partner with UWA on this exercise in the bid to easily assess and monitor the population trends, threats and health of giraffe population in Uganda.
“We want to develop key giraffe conservation outputs to support giraffe long-term conservation and management in Murchison Falls,” he said.
The exercise has attracted international media attention including a (British Broadcasting Corporation) BBC crew who are covering the exercise for their feature series of Wild Africa.
UWA last year translocated 15 giraffes to Lake Mburo from Murchison Falls. They also translocated 86 impalas and 6 zebras to Katonga from the ranches around Lake Mburo and 17 Elands from Lake Mburo to Kidepo Valley National Park among others.
Uganda hosts the only natural remaining population of close to 1000 of the 2,500 Rothschild Giraffe species in the world. The rest are in small populations reintroduced in parks in Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo National parks and in conservancies in Kenya. In 2010 IUCN (the International Union for the Conservation of Nature), added the Rotschild giraffe to the growing number of species under threat of extinction facing habitat destruction from encroachment, segregation of populations, severe poaching and human-wildlife conflicts.