UWA translocates 20 giraffes to Kidepo

In a bid to boost the giraffe population in Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is translocating about 20 giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park.

The translocation exercise was flagged off on Sunday by UWA’s director for conservation, John Makombo.

According to Makombo, the growing tourism in Kidepo Valley National Park is among the key reasons for UWA’s decision to increase the giraffe population in the park.

Kidepo currently has 47 giraffes which is considered a small number considering a spike in the number of tourists that visit the park.

The first translocation of giraffes to Kidepo was in 1998 when three giraffes were airlifted from Nakuru National Park in Kenya.

“We are doing population supplementation because the giraffes in Kidepo have not reproduced at a rate we had expected them to. Their slow reproduction hasn’t yielded fruits; population has been growing very slowly that after 20 years there are only 47 giraffes in Kidepo,” Dr Patrick Atimnedi, the manager veterinary services at UWA said.

Kidepo has more male giraffes than females which could explain the slow reproduction.

Subsequently, in the ongoing translocation exercise, the focus is more on female giraffes.

“We are taking mainly females, we want to diversify the genes because the few females there, they are the ones that have been breeding all the time,” Atimnedi said.

The translocation was also necessitated by the reducing food stock in Murchison Falls National Park.

Giraffes mostly feed on acacia and baboon apple trees which according to Makombo have reduced and cannot match the growing giraffe population in Murchison Falls National Park.

Some of the giraffes on arrival in Kidepo

There are about 1, 250 giraffes in Murchison Falls National Park according to a census conducted by the Giraffe Conservation Fund (GCF) last year – the biggest population of the Rothschild’s giraffe species in the World.

GCF funded the translocation with $37,750 (Shs 138million).