By Paul Tentena
MURCHISON FALLS NATIONAL PARK, Uganda - Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has transferred 15 giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park in Northern Uganda to Lake Mburo National Park in Western Uganda to boost tourism in Uganda’s smallest National Park.
“There are three main reasons for this trans-location. First is for biological control of the acacia ocai tree in Lake Mburo. Second, is to increase the species biodiversity in the park and thirdly to boost tourism in that corridor,” Dr. Andrew Sseguya the UWA Executive Director said last week while flagging off the trans-location process.
Officials said the transfer will also ensure biological control of the acacia ocai tree that is swallowing up Lake Mburo National Park.
Shifting the animals took four days and saw relocation of 11 female giraffes and four male giraffes. The giraffes were caught from the wild, put into a detention facility called Bomah for 22 days before enduring a 700 kilometre trip from Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda’s largest park to Lake Mburo, which is the smallest measuring 260sq kms.
Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) provided assistance and expertise in the trans-location process. According to UWA, Murchison Falls National Park has over 900 giraffes species.
“This is not the first time trans-locations are being done. The first one was done in the early 1990’s when giraffes were transferred from Nakuru to Kidepo National Park.
The second one was done in 2007, when we picked giraffes from here and took them to Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC). This is the third time of transferring,” Sseguya said.
The Rothschild Giraffes species also known as the Baringo Giraffes only found in Uganda and Kenya were the ones transferred to Lake Mburo.
Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in Western Uganda. The park is situated about 30 kms, by road, east of Mbarara, the largest city in the sub-region. This location is approximately 240 kms, by road, west of Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city.
The park has a variety of animals such as zebras, impala, buffaloes, and over three hundred (300) bird species. At 260 square kilometres (100 sq mi), the park is the smallest of Uganda’s Savannah national parks.
Dr. Patrick Atimnedi the Uganda Wildlife Authority Veterinary Coordinator who oversaw the process on behalf of UWA the process wasn’t very difficult since a number of experts and expertise was used.
“Darting chemicals were used together with ropings. Their generic samples were taken to ascertain after a certain period of time in Mburo, what will be the dominant species,” Atimnedi said.
Sseguya said they have plans to trans-locate zebras, which are numerous in Lake Mburo to other national parks in Uganda.