MASINDI, Uganda. Change, they say is part of life, but even animals try very much to resist change. The Investigator online discovered this during the translocation of giraffes from the northern bank of Victoria Nile in Murchison Falls National Park to the Southern section early on Tuesday. The tedious, risky and rather very expensive venture was being conducted Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) staff and a senior team of giraffe experts from the Giraffe Conservation Fund (GCF) found in Namibia.
This is the third time giraffes are being translocated from Murchison Falls National Park. The first time such a tedious exercise took place was some two years ago when a total of 15 giraffes were translocated to Lake Mburo National Park in Mbarara. The second time was when an additional 18 were transferred from the northern part of the park to the southern part in Murchison Falls National Park.
This time round, the investigator ascertained that 22 giraffes will be translocated, with 20 remaining at the Southern section while two will be taken to the Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC). This seems a good venture to the totos who will now have a chance to see giraffes from Entebbe without necessarily traveling to Murchison’s, Lake Mburo or Kidepo National Parks.
The exercise kicked off on Tuesday morning with the first 4 giraffes, (one was left behind after it got injured due to a heavy kick by one of its colleagues within the truck). It took the four creatures a tedious, slow and painful six hour journey covering 43km across the Albert Nile to the northern section of the park.
Why carry out translocation yet it’s so expensive?
This is the question that The Investigator put to Gesa Simplicious the UWA publicist. “The issue is not about the cost, but rather about having an equal representation of animals in all parts of the park.”
Dr. Patrick Atimnedi, the manager in-charge of Veterinary at UWA noted that the reason for translocation of giraffes is due to the increasing number of the spices. “In the 1990s we had hit a real low of just 250 giraffes in this park. But now since the population is growing, it’s is prudent that we carry out translocation to other parts that have grass within the park as well,” said Atimnedi who was part of the team of over 50 staff carrying out the exercise.
The Investigator dug out Dr. Julian Fennessy, the senior vet medic and giraffe expert from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation based in Namibia. Julian who was part of the 15 ‘man’ strong delegation from Windhoek was so impressive because he seemed to have all facts. “Three years ago we didn’t know the exact number of giraffes in this park. Today we can reveal that we have 1,250 giraffes and we have all their individual pictures taken over the last three years.” Julian also revealed that the exercise cost USD$ 75,000 (Ugx shs270 million), not a mean amount to spend on translocating 22 giraffes in about a week or so. “This amount came in terms of technical assistance, translocation equipment purchase and the Namibia technical team support while in Uganda for the exercise,” he said.
Julian said the GCF had for years supported UWA with funds for the translocation exercise including the recent purchase of a brand new translocation Tata truck that was earlier this year used for translocating kobs from Murchison to Kidepo National Parks.
Julian explained that the type of giraffes in Uganda is known as the Rothchild’s species. Though there are nine species of giraffes in the African continent, Uganda has only one type. So far apart from Murchison falls that has a total of 1250 Rothchild’s giraffe, Kidepo currently has 42 while Lake Mburo has 18. South Africa, according to Fennessy Julian tops the pack in the continent with over 25, 000 giraffes followed slightly by Tanzania with between 20,000 to 25,000 giraffes too. Kenya still lies ahead of Uganda with more than 15, 000 giraffes. Uganda still has less than 3, 000 in all the parks, though UWA officials indicate that the number is expected to shoot in coming years.