Giraffe translocation enhances tourism at Uganda wildlife reserve
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA ) released this week the first batch of 5 Rothschild giraffes into Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Eastern Uganda as part of the reintroduction exercise that will see a total of 15 giraffes (5 male and 10 females) reintroduced into the reserve.
According to UWA Communications Manager Bashir Hangi, the giraffes were translocated from Murchison Falls National Park. Dr. Panta Kasoma, representing the Chairman of the UWA Board of Trustees, presided over the release of the giraffes in the wild. Present was a member of UWA Board of Trustees including Mr. Leonard Wamakote of UWA management, leaders of districts neighboring the reserve, and community members. Dr. Kasoma said that the re-introduction of giraffes in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is in line with UWA’s strategic objectives among which is the reintroduction of extinct species.
“This exercise addresses one of our key conservation objective[s] of restoring and managing viable populations of 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. Dr. Kasoma further added that in addition to increased tourism, other benefits such as employment, sale of food and crafts, as well as accommodation, increased revenue sharing, and other indirect economic benefits will be realized.
On behalf of the Executive Director, the UWA Deputy Director of Field Operations, Mr. Charles Tumwesigye, said that in a bid to enhance the tourism potential of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, UWA last year translocated 92 impalas into the reserve. He added that UWA’s efforts to protect the wildlife in the reserve has also resulted in increasing the numbers of roan antelope, eland, zebra, hartebeest, and cheetah among others.
The 3-week translocation exercise will enhance the long-term survival of the species and restore natural biodiversity and long-term economic benefits to the entire wildlife conservation value chain. It will also enable communities with cultural attachment to the giraffe to participate in its conservation, enhance the conservation value of Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve by reintroducing one of its indigenous species that had become extinct there, and diversifying tourism products with associated ecological and economic benefits while at the same time re-enforcing and supplementing dwindling populations to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem balance and utilization.
The translocation is being undertaken with support from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Chayenne Mountain Zoo in the United States. Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) and Makerere University are also participating in the exercise.
Pain Upe Wildlife Reserve is the largest wildlife reserve and the second largest protected area (after MFNP) in Uganda, covering an area of 2,043 km2. It was established by a Statutory Instrument (SI) No. 220 of 1964 and amended by SI No. 136 of 1965 as a reserve. It is located in Nakapiripirit and Amudat districts and bordered by Napak, Katakwi, Kumi, Kween, Bulambuli, and Bukedea districts.
History has not been kind to the giraffes in Uganda. Rinderpest wiped out the giraffe population in the Ankole region (western Uganda), while in the north and northeast, the population decimation was largely a result of armed conflict, trophy hunting, and poaching for meat. These incidents led to local extinction of giraffe in Matheniko by the end of 1968 then Bokora and Pian Upe by the end of 1996. These threats have now been greatly reduced by law enforcement in the protected areas, and through significant veterinary monitoring and improved community relations.
According to GCF, Uganda hosts the largest number of nubian or rothschild’s giraffe totaling 1,650. The species was listed as endangered on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List in 2010.
In June 2015, eTN published a similar article in which giraffes were translocated to Lake Mburo National Park in Western Uganda. Since then, UWA has embarked on similar exercises involving the translocation of giraffes from the northern to the southern bank, and over 50 kobs to Pian Upe. The UWA veterinary unit has also completed the first phase of restocking impalas and zebra from Lake Mburo National Park to Katonga Wildlife Reserve which forms part of the Kibale Forest National Park Conservation Area.