The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has embarked on an ongoing mass translocation drive of 150 Uganda kobs from Murchison Falls to Kidepo Valley National Park in northern Uganda.
The purpose of the exercise is to diversify wildlife species in Kidepo Valley National Park and to expand their home range to their former status. Currently, Kidepo Valley National Park has only 4 kobs in the Boma area. This was confirmed by UWA Executive Director Dr. Andrew Seguya. “We intend to establish a new population in Kidepo Valley National Park which can act as ‘seed stock’ to populate other areas in the region,” he said.
At a cost of 200 million Uganda shillings, the exercise which is currently ongoing is being conducted by UWA with the support of staff from other conservation areas.
Makerere University has also sent a team of 5 students and 2 lecturers from COVAB (College of Veterinary Medicine – animal resources and bio-security) to experience the exercise hands on which is also intended to build capacity.
Recent increasing oil discoveries and investments in the Albertine Graben have enhanced UWA’s resolve to mitigate unforeseen impacts.
The UWA chief maintains: “Translocation has been in UWA before oil exploration to restore the species diversity that had suffered a big decline. Efforts began as far as the late 90s with attention given to species that had suffered severe decline. Giraffe and eland populations were expanded by adding some individuals from other parks. Oil exploration has enhanced our motivation to prepare for unforeseen impacts.”
Black Rhinos once roamed the lush plains of Kidepo Valley, until they were hunted down to extinction in the early 80s with a recent breeding program for the White Rhino ongoing under the Rhino Fund Uganda at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. Dr. Seguya is upbeat that their return is eminent. “It is well in the Rhino National Conservation Strategy for Uganda. The return of the Black Rhinos will signal the climax of the restoration of the damage done by the civil war periods of the 1970s and 80s,” he said.
Kidepo Valley National Park
He is confident that Kidepo Valley National Park is secure, with law enforcement doing a great job to ensure that treats to poaching are countered.
At 3,840 square kilometers, Murchison Falls is Uganda’s largest protected area. It is studded with Borasus palm and grassland supporting bird life, lion, buffalo, elephant, Uganda kob, Rothschild’s giraffe, and Patas monkey. The launch cruise offers close-up views to hippos galore and crocodiles on the poise. Latest census figures in the park put kob numbers at about 55,000. The exercise is expected to last 2 weeks.