By Andrew Ssenyonga & Denis Nsubuga
KAMPALA, The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has started the process of translocating 20 giraffes from the northern to the southern sector of the Murchison Falls National Park located about 300 kilometres northwest of here.
Two giraffes will be moved to the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe, near Kampala, says the acting UWA Executive Director, Nightingale Mirembe.
The three-week-long exercise is intended to expand the range of giraffes in light of the oil and gas activities taking place in the northern section of the park where they currently range.
“The 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 measures to save the small (giraffe) population still existing in Uganda,” she says.
Mirembe adds that this will also help to establish a viable, free-ranging giraffe population on the south side of the park to enhance ecosystem balance and utilization.
She says the exercise is also aimed at boosting tourism on the southern sector of the Nile where it flows through the park 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.”
UWEC Executive Director James Musinguzi says the exercise will promote conservation education and awareness at the centre in Entebbe through enhanced wildlife species diversity in a quick-to-reach tourism area.
“The two 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 among young school-going children,” he explains.
The UWA last year translocated 15 giraffes to Lake Mburo from Murchison Falls as well as 86 impalas and six zebras to Katonga from the ranches around Lake Mburo and 17 elands from Lake Mburo to Kidepo Valley National Park among other activities.
Uganda currently boosts of over 900 giraffes surviving at Kidepo Valley, Murchison falls and Lake Mburo national parks. At the global level, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that only 2,500 mature Rothschild’s giraffe individuals may be surviving in the wild and the species is therefore threatened with extinction.
— NNN-NEW VISION