The Uganda Wildlife Authority last night (28th October 2019) released the first of 15 giraffes to be reintroduced in the wilds of Pian Upe Game Reserve, the largest wildlife reserve in Uganda and the second-largest protected area in the country after the Murchison Falls Conservation Area. This move comes ahead of plans to uplift the wildlife area from the status of a wildlife reserve to a more protected “National Park” label.
In a statement issued today, UWA confirmed having released five Rothschild’s giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) in this remote expanse of grassland located in northeastern Uganda.
The translocation is being conducted with support from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in the United States of America. The Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) and Makerere University are also offering assistance in this important exercise.
Earlier this week, celebrated American internet personality, Kelvin Peña, also known by the moniker “Brother Nature” shared on Social Media: “My first hands-on conservation mission. Working with Uganda Wildlife Authority to transfer 15-20 giraffes to a place which they’ve been extinct for over 40 years”.
Kelvin is in Uganda highlighting the work of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
In a video that went viral earlier this week, an elated Kelvin mentioned that the giraffes in Pian Upe will create a buffer for this threatened species, and should anything happen to the giraffe population around the world, there will always be plenty of backup in Uganda, in places like Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve.
According to Dr. Panta Kasoma who presided over this signature event, representing the Chairman UWA Board of Trustees; the exercise is a significant effort towards restoring and managing extinct or endangered species.
“We are happy that we now have giraffes in Pian Upe after very many years and we hope this will further enhance tourism in the reserve”, he said.
He further revealed other direct and indirect benefits that would accrue from this development, including employment opportunities, the sale of food and crafts as well as the attraction of investment in accommodation facilities. Dr. Kasoma also foretold the increased contribution of money to the surrounding communities inline with UWA’s revenue-sharing scheme, an arrangement which involves the donation of 20% of all park gate collections to the community with the aim of fostering development and encouraging an appreciation for wildlife conservation.
The remaining 10 giraffes will be delivered in the coming weeks; a total of 5 males and 10 females have been identified for translocation from among the healthy population of Murchison Falls National Park. They will be kept in a boma before being transported by road to their new home.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has carried a couple of successful translocations in the past including the movement of 92 impalas from Lake Mburo National Park to Pian Upe. “In 2015, we re-introduced 15 giraffes in Lake Mburo National Park, and between 2016 and 2017, 36 giraffes were translocated from the northern bank of the Nile River in Murchison Falls National Park to the southern side,” Mr. Sam Mwandha the UWA Executive Director confirmed at a stakeholders’ meeting earlier this year.
Last year, 14 giraffes were also translocated from Murchison Falls National Park to Kidepo Valley National Park and all these operations have registered births. The populations have increased and though the number of giraffes around the world is still threatened, Uganda’s giraffe population continues to grow.
According to a recent estimate by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there is at least 1,550 adult giraffes in the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park, which is by far the largest population of Nubian giraffe, one of the most threatened subspecies of giraffe.