Giraffe Population Increases in Uganda National Parks

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Murchison Falls Giraffe

After years of tasting the edge of extinction in Uganda, the number of giraffes is bouncing back in National Parks. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) names giraffes as endangered species, (species under threat)

But the yielding good news from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) indicates Giraffes population in Uganda and African at large is hopefully slowly increasing.

By 2010, it was projected that only a number of 250 Nubian giraffes survived in the wild of Murchison Falls National Park Northern bank. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) came on board to foster giraffe conservation and first survey and genetic sampling was carried out at Murchison Falls National Park in 2013.

Today, the highest concentration of the world Northern Nubian giraffes call Uganda their home. With this Uganda is estimated to be accommodating over 1,650 wild Nubian giraffes which relatively higher than the recent number.

In African wild the number of giraffes has tremendously increased by 20% from 2015 from 97,562 individuals to 117,173 individuals according to 2020 reviews. As Uganda as well boost over a huge increase from 250 individuals in 250 to 1,650 individuals.

The Nubian (Rothchild’s giraffe) sub-specie is the most endangered species and only be located in countries of western Kenya, western Ethiopia, southern South Sudan, and spread across Uganda. And the new records estimate that there are about 5,900 in the wild.

Before giraffe extinction in most of the areas, these existed in Kidepo Valley National Park, Pian-Upe, Matheniko –Bokora Conservation corridor, from Lake Mburo National Park.

IN 2014, The GCF signed an MOU with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), as a part of partnership the National Giraffe Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for Uganda (2020 to 2030) was drafted to identify conservation priorities.

In 2016, UWA under the support of GCF, started on the plans of relocating giraffes to other protected areas which projected started by translocating giraffes from Murchison Falls to the southern bank of the park, continued to Lake Mburo National Park and Kidepo and with the recent being Pian-Upe wildlife reserve.

Murchison Falls National Park

The park hosts about 93% of the giraffe population in Uganda. The Murchison Falls Game Park situated in northern districts of Uganda, the park’s northern bank had remained as the only giraffe breeding areas after the species almost got extinct almost from other parks and reserves. Today Murchison Falls National Park hosts over 1550 off the 1060 Nubian giraffe species in the country.

The long term study on the giraffe numbers, their distribution and ecology held by GCF, UWA and Dartmouth College in 2013.

Murchison Falls National Park has identified a number of challenges facing wildlife among which include oil discover in the nearby Lake Albert one of the drainage systems of the park.

GCF is working closely with UWA to monitor giraffe numbers and movements, as well as providing directly anti-poaching and de-snaring support. The program helps to provide a solid baseline to assess their long-term monitoring and proactively adapt to potential threats through oil exploration.

In 2016, GCF and UWA started on efforts of giraffe distribution by trans-locating the first group of 18 giraffes over the Nile river from the northern to southern bank of Murchison Falls National Park in the operation dubbed Twiga I and the same operation continued under Twiga II where 19 giraffes were trans-located to the southern bank. After several births the giraffe of 2018, indicates an estimated of 45 individuals to the southern bank.

Kidepo Valley National Park

The political unrest that streamed from South Sudan, poaching and land encroachments by 1990s worked greatly towards reduction of the giraffe population. The population reduced intensely to only 3 individuals, though habitat loss, disease and fragmentation remain the major threats to the species which are majorly caused by human population growth.

Excitingly, the number of giraffe individuals is slowly increasing at Kidepo Valley National Park. In 2015 GCF and UWA conducted the first ever annual census at the park which survey determined that the number of giraffes had increased to 36 individuals in 2018. With efforts of increasing the visibility of the species an additional of 14 species were translocated from Murchison Falls National Park to Kidepo under the operation Twiga III.

Monitoring of the translocated population remain critical where regular filed surveys are done with the guide of the GPS satellite are fitted on giraffes to aid in trucking their movements.

Lake Mburo National Park

Poaching and diseases are thought of being associatied to why giraffes got extinct from Lake Mburo National Park about 100years. In 2015, in the effort to expand the broad of the sub-species UWA thoughtfully transferred 15 Nubian giraffes to Lake Mburo National Park. Following the birth of about 10 new calves, a new estimation indicates there are 25 individuals at the park.

GCF is supporting UWA and a local conservation group to regularly monitor the giraffe population and work with local communities to make giraffe play a valuable role in this landscape once again. Though the species are facing the challenges of human encroachment pressure which results from growing population.

Pian –upe Wildlife Reserve

The very recent giraffe translocation move went to Uganda’s 2nd largest protected area of Pian-Upe Wildlife reserve in northern Uganda. In 2019, UWA transferred the Nubian giraffes after nearly when they had extinct from the wider corridor for over 25 years.  Still under the support of GCF, 5 giraffes were reintroduced to the reserve.

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