22 Rothschild's giraffes move south of Murchison Falls National Park

Over a period of three weeks, 22 Rothschild's giraffes in Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park will move home to a new location in the same park.

The translocation exercise being done by the Uganda Wildlife Authority with support from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) seeks to provide a greater range for this species of giraffes.

Dr. Andrew Seguya, the executive director of UWA says the exercise will establish a viable, free ranging giraffe population on the south bank of River Nile, expand the range and boost tourism to increase revenue for conservation.

“We are putting them on the side going to the top of the falls and the range will include the new honeymoon track,” says Dr. Seguya. “That area is quite open and the giraffes will love it.”

Rothschild's giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi) is one of the most endangered giraffe subspecies, with only a few hundred members in the wild. It is named after the Tring Museum's founder, Walter Rothschild. This sub species of giraffes is also known as the Ugandan giraffe. All of the living Rothchild giraffes in the wild are in protected areas in Kenya and Uganda. At six metres (20 feet), the Rothschild giraffe is taller than other sub species.

The biggest population is found in the Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park and recently Lake Mburo National Park.

Uganda’s move to increase their range gives these tall and elegant creatures a greater chance to ensure survival of their endangered species.

This is not the first time that Uganda Wildlife Authority is moving giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park. In July 2015, UWA moved 15 giraffes to the Lake Mburo National Park 250km from Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. That population has now settled in the new home.

The first major translocation of giraffes in Uganda was in 2007, when 15 giraffes were shifted from Nakuru in Kenya to Kidepo Valley National Park. This population has since grown to 100. Stephen Asiimwe, the CEO Uganda Tourism Board says UWA’s conversation work has seen Uganda’s wildlife populations of gorillas, elephants and giraffes grow—a major factor in supporting local economies.

“While is many parts of Africa the threats against wildlife are increasing, in Uganda, the landscape is changing as populations of endangered species grow. This is being recognized by the global community through the different awards like CNN’s vote on Uganda as one of the best places to visit in 2016,” says Asiimwe.

As head of the country’s national tourism marketing Asiimwe knows only too well that Uganda can only maintain her edge over her neighbors through diversified and sustainable tourism offerings. Uganda has the 11% of the world’s bird’s species, over 50% of the mountain gorillas and the largest population of Rothschild’s giraffes. With three national parks now home to the giraffes, the options for tourists have grown greatly, as the survival of the world’s tallest animal improves.  

UWA is also planning future translocation of buffalo, Uganda Kob, impala, and zebra as a permanent activity.