Giraffes are other endangered species as named by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but good news revealed by Giraffe Conservation Foundation indicates Giraffes population in Uganda and across the African continent is tremendously increasing.
Uganda accommodates one of the most threatened giraffe species among the four of them, the Northern Nubian giraffes most of them find their home in northern and eastern Uganda. Today Uganda is now home to over 1,650 Nubian giraffes which are relatively low but higher than in the recent 3 decades.
The Nubian giraffes then considered as the Rothschild’s giraffes (G.C. Camelopardalis) across Africa are in countries of western Kenya, western Ethiopia, southern South Sudan, and spread across Uganda.
In 2010, only an estimate of 250 Nubia giraffes lived in the wilds of Murchison falls National Park and then IUCN placed these sub-species on the red list of endangered species. The threat of the giraffe population had largely increased over the years which had caused the extinction of the species from other notable homes of Pian-Upe, Matheniko –Bokora Conservation corridor, from Lake Mburo National Park.
The Giraffe Conservation Foundation entered into a partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority and signed an MOU in 2014 and as a part of the partnership, the National Giraffe Conservation Strategy and Action Plan for Uganda (2020 to 2030) was drafted to identify conservation priorities.
The GCF confirms that giraffe conservation Uganda is an important program and GCF is now focusing on three national parks which host giraffes in Uganda together with one reserve. And these are the Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Lake Mburo National Park, and Pain-Upe Wildlife Reserve.
Murchison Falls National Park
After giraffes almost getting extinct from the rest of Uganda, the northern bank of Murchison Falls National Park remained as a breeding area for the rest of Uganda Nubian giraffes. Today Murchison Falls National Park hosts over 1550 giraffes an estimate of 93% of the Nubian giraffe species in the country.
In 2013, GCF established a long-term study on the giraffe numbers, their distribution, and ecology with the collaboration of both UWA and Dartmouth College.
Identifying various threats to the giraffes, the Murchison falls giraffes are facing the challenge of oil discovery in Lake Albert along the Nile River which is as well a threat to all wildlife species in the zone
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, UWA with support started the giraffe distribution efforts by trans-locating the first group of 18 giraffes over the Nile River to the southern bank of the park in the operation Twiga I, and the same operation continued under Twiga II where 19 more giraffes were translocated to the southern bank. The recent census of the giraffe of 2018, after several births the giraffes on the southern bank of Murchison Falls National Park is estimated to be 45 giraffe individuals.
Kidepo Valley National Park
The region hosted a number of giraffes but shortly after the 1990s, the population reduced intensely to only 3 individuals. The major cause was illegal hunting, land fragmentation, and political unrest from neighboring South Sudan. Though habitat loss, disease, and fragmentation remain the major threats to the species which are majorly caused by human population growth.
However, the giraffe population at Kidepo Valley National Park is slowly increasing, in 2015, GCF conducted the first-ever annual census here, and in 2018, the survey conducted in partnership with UWA indicated that the park had about 36 individuals. In 2018, a number of 14 giraffes were translocated from Murchison Falls National Park to Kidepo during the operation Twiga III by UWA under the support of GCF.
Lake Mburo National Park
The park accommodated giraffes about 100 years before they fully got extinct, the major causes was associated with diseases, poaching, and encroachments. In 2015, UWA through their effort of ensuring giraffe redistribution transferred 15 Nubian giraffes to Lake Mburo National Park. Today with new calve births, 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 giraffes play a valuable role in this landscape once again.
Pian–up Wildlife Reserve
The region/ the wildlife accommodated the giraffes before they extinct throughout the greater Karamonga Conservation Area Corridor (Bokora, Matheniko, and Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve. In 2019, UWA under the support of GCF, translocated giraffes to the Pian-Upe Wildlife reserve to reintroduce the species in the corridor.