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.