A joint team of experts from Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) in January this year, successfully translocated 20 giraffes from the northern bank of the Victoria Nile to southern bank within the expansive Murchison Falls National Park.
Of the targeted 20 giraffes captured,18 were transferred to the southern bank while two were taken to UWEC Entebbe where they are reported to have settled in very well.
The objectives of the translocation were to establish a viable, free-ranging giraffe population in the south bank of MFNP; expand the range of the giraffes in light of the oil and gas activities in their current range; boost tourism south of the Nile and increase revenue for conservation activities, enhance the long term survival of the species, restore natural biodiversity and long-term economic benefits to the local and national economy and finally promote conservation education and awareness.
Wildlife translocation is a globally recognised management tool in conservation and is used, among others, to; manage populations and environment by reducing habitat destruction and allow for restoration of the degraded ones, introduce and re-introduce species into new and former range/habitats with the aim to re-enforce or diversify species in a locality to enhance survival rate, address problem animal cases, carry out wildlife farming/enterprise development, carry out breeding programs, research and species monitoring activities such as active wildlife disease investigations,habituation and rehabilitation of orphaned or disadvantaged animals to capture facilities for education and ecotourism.
UWA has had a long history of wildlife translocation in the country over the years dating back from giraffe translocation to Kidepo Valley national park (1997), Luwero and Mubende elephant translocations (1999-2000), Kidepo eland translocation (2004), Kabwoya hartebeest/waterbuck/Giant Forest Hog translocation (2007), Katonga impala and zebra translocation (2012), Lake Mburo giraffe translocation (2015) among others.
Other planned wildlife translocation activities for the next financial years include buffaloes and topis to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, Uganda kobs to Kidepo Valley national park, Zebras to Katonga Wildlife Reserve and Hartebeests to Tooro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Management at UWA is convinced that the translocation exercise will help increase the population of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes in MFNP from the current 860 individuals as per our 2014 census through successful natural breeding in the south bank. The translocation exercise was boosted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) represented by Dr. Julian Fennessy who co-funded the translocation by donating to UWA a new specialized truck valued at USD $ 37,500. At the same time, UWEC did not only provide experienced personnel but also supported the equipment fabrication in form of a cart truck.
Earlier in June 2015, another 15 giraffes were translocated from Murchison Falls NP to Lake Mburo National Park which has boosted tourist visitation to the area.
Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has received donation of Transport Logistic equipment from Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Uganda Wildlife Education Center to support the Conservation Agency to carry out Translocation exercise for Giraffes in Murchison Falls National park (MFNP).
“UWA very soon will be engaging in a translocation exercise where 20 giraffes will be translocated from the northern banks in the park where oil exploration and other related activities are taking place to the southern bank where UWA consider being safer for the animals,” Nightingale Mirembe Ssenoga the acting UWA Executive Director said while receiving the equipment at its headquarters in Kampala.
She said: “As UWA we are delighted to receive the equipment it will make our work more easier.”
The equipment which includes truck worth $ 37, 5000 from GCF and cat truck from UWEC will be used by the agency to translocate about 20 giraffes from the northern Bnanks of the park to the southern bank and UWEC at Entebbe.
Ssenoga said UWA is committed to see that Giraffes like other wildlife animals are protected from any threat resulting from various Economic activities taking place in the national park. Apart from translocating the animal to safer zones, UWA is also drafting National Giraffe conservation policy which will support UWA source for more funds to support conservation for Giraffes in the country.
Handing over the truck to UWA, the Director of GCF Dr Julian Fennessy said Uganda is among the African Countries with great number of Giraffes thus asking the country to conserve the Animals because of their economic value.
“Protecting Giraffes comes with great Economic potential to a country like Uganda, GCF we are committed to support UWA towards Giraffe conservation,” he said.
James Musinguzi the Executive Director UWEC said the two donated giraffes will help the Education Centre to increase on their source of income.
By Gessa Simplicious
After the successful Johannesburg CITES COP17 conference on international wildlife trade policy that underscored the ecological importance of pangolins, parrots and other species by banning trade in these species through Appendix I listing, conservation in Uganda has yet another chance to take giant benefit strides. Between, December 4-17, 2016, the conservation fraternity across the world will descend on the Mexican city Cancun for high-level policy meetings and negotiations for biodiversity protection. This meeting, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP13 has outstanding implications for future finance and policy directions in relation to biodiversity conservation including wildlife.
This important convention is a platform to lobby and negotiate for funding from developed countries to support habitats on the priority list. Previously such negotiations have resulted in the signing of key protocols like the Nagoya Protocol which allows for equitable benefit sharing of biodiversity resources and the Cartagena Protocol that protects our biodiversity and agriculture from being exposed to GMOs that could impact our precious resources. These protocols have been successful in guiding resource access to communities with an emphasis on economic benefits for citizens around protected areas.