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Uganda Giraffes

Uganda Giraffes

The giraffe is a large African hoofed mammal belonging to the genus Giraffa. They are the tallest of all land animals; males (bulls) may exceed 5.5 metres (18 feet) in height, and the tallest females (cows) are about 4.5 metres. Using prehensile tongues almost half a metre long, they are able to browse foliage almost six metres from the ground. Giraffes are a common sight in grasslands and open woodlands in East Africa, where they can be seen in reserves

In the last century, Uganda Giraffes  were widespread both within and outside protected areas in northern and eastern Uganda. It is likely that they also occurred throughout the southern ranges historically but were extirpated (locally extinct) in these ranges more than a century ago. By the 1960s, however, the giraffe  population had been reduced to 1,800 individuals, which were confined primarily to five protected areas: The Bokoro Corridor Wildlife Reserve, Matheniko Wildlife Reserve, Pian-Upe Wildlife Reserve, Murchison Falls National Park, and the Kidepo Valley National Park. Illegal hunting as well as increased agricultural land use due to a burgeoning human population further decimated giraffe numbers. By the mid-1990s, giraffe survived in only two locations in the country: the Kidepo Valley National Park and the northern section of the Murchison Falls National Park. Giraffe were extirpated (locally extinct) in the Matheniko Wildlife Reserve (before 1983), the Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve (1995), and the Bokoro Corridor Wildlife Reserve (1996).

 

Uganda Giraffes
Giraffes are regarded as the tallest animals on earth

 

 Uganda Rothschild’s giraffes

It is said that in the world, giraffes do not exceed 1600, 700 giraffes are said to be in captivity around the world and 800 are available in the wild of the different parts of the world with high population in Uganda. This is because Uganda is well known for preserving wildlife rather than captivating them

The giraffe type common in Uganda is called the Rothschild’s Giraffe, also known as the Nubian Giraffes or Baringo giraffe, these are one of the most interesting Big Game animals found on Uganda’s savannah plains.  It was named after the London zoologist Lionel Water Rothschild who first described the subspecies in the early 1900s. A truly unique species, giraffes are found only in sub-Saharan Africa and can reach unbelievable heights. The unmissable giants can get by on less than thirty minutes of sleep each day.

In 2010, it was estimated that only 250 Nubian giraffe (then considered Rothschild’s giraffe) lived in their native range in Murchison Falls National Park. Consequently, Rothschild’s giraffe was listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List in 2010. GCF became actively involved in giraffe conservation in Uganda in 2013, when a survey was conducted getting genetic sampling at Murchison Falls National Park.

At present more than 1,550 Rothchild’s giraffes occur in Uganda. It is rare elsewhere in its former range but very common in the northern part of Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley, Lake Mburo, and very recently (2019) translocated to Pian Upe Game Reserve.

 

Facts about the Rothschild’s Giraffe

Weight and Height

The mature male giraffe grows 5-6 meters tall (20 feet) and weighs up to 3600 pounds. A female giraffe can grow up to 4.5 meters tall and weighs up to 2600 pounds and giving birth to a giraffe which weighs around 150 pounds and  5feets tall. The giraffes can live up to 26 years but sometimes longer when in captivity.

Diet and Habitat

The Uganda Giraffes only stay in open savannah grassland with a lot of acacia plants which they feed and allows them to run around, a single day a giraffe can feed up to 29kgs. Giraffes are herbivores meaning they feed on vegetation i.e., leaves, young shoots, stems, fruits, tree barks from trees using their long neck and tongue even though these animals eat a lot they can go weeks minus drinking water since they get moisture from vegetation they eat. They live in groups of 10-20 and even reaching a group of 50 individuals and these groups are made up of males, females and the young ones.

Behaviours.

When Male giraffes mature, they like living a solitary life and automatically leave the groups and they are so gregarious with excellent eye sight and do not lie down while sleeping due to fear to be attacked by predators like lions. This does not mean they never lay down. Giraffes occasionally lay down, resting their neck on their flanks. They are extremely vulnerable in this position. When they do this, at least one member of the herd will remain standing and on watch for predators.

Furthermore, the male giraffes are not sociable like females therefore they establish dominance among herds by fight. While eating, the males forage food at a higher elevation than females who forage food at their body height.

Unique features of Uganda Rothschild’s Giraffe

Rothschild Giraffes do not have spots on the lower legs. This is the biggest difference you can spot from far away.

The Rothschild has leopard-like brown and orange spots with areas of beige all over the large body up to the beginning of its feet. The absence of spots on its lower legs make the Rothschild giraffes look as if it is wearing some white stockings. They move both right legs simultaneously followed by both left legs.

They have five horn-like features on their heads (Ossicones); two on both sides of the head, two behind the ears and one right in the centre above the forehead.

This makes them quite unique from the other giraffe species which have just two ossicones.

It has 18 to 20 inches long strong and flexible tongue. This is used to pull the hard acacia leaves, coil them and shove them into their mouths.

 

Where can giraffes in Uganda be spotted?

 Murchison falls national park Giraffes

Murchison falls National Park is the largest and most visited park located in north western Uganda. This park was gazette in 1952. It is a home to various wildlife species including animal species like lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes among many others. On your way to Murchison falls national park, one can also get a chance to see the rhinos which are found at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary which adds on your big four mammals in the park to make them the big five.

Murchison Falls National Park has been successful when it comes to conservation. The park is also known for the critically endangered Rothschild’s giraffe, a subspecies of the northern giraffe.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation has stated that in the last two decades, the Rothschild’s giraffe has increased in Uganda. Murchison Falls has about 1,250 giraffes, which is nearly 75 per cent of the world’s population of the Rothschild giraffe species.

 

Uganda Giraffes
Have you Checked for them in Murchison Falls National Park?

 

Uganda Giraffes in Lake Mburo National Park 

Lake Mburo National Park is located in Kiruhura District in the Western Uganda of Uganda, about 30 km (19 mi) east of Mbarara and about 240 km (150 mi) by road west of Kampala. It was originally gazetted in 1933 as a controlled hunting area and upgraded to a game reserve in 1963

Lake Mburo National Park, in the previous years has been one of the national parks in Uganda that was facing a great problem of beautiful species like Giraffes. This brought about high demand that resulted from flopping in the virgin lands of lake mburo national park. Therefore, Giraffes were transported to Lake Mburo in 2015.

In June 2015, UWA relocated 15 giraffes from Murchison Falls National Park to Lake Mburo National Park in an effort to boost tourism in western Uganda. These 15 giraffes that included eight females were expected to produce at least within 15 months of their arrival but alas, they only helped in eating the acacia hockii which had been growing out of hand in the park.

In recent months, one of the female giraffes showed signs of pregnancy and given the size of its udder, was expected to produce the first Mburo calf in July. But in a pleasant surprise, the new baby arrived a few days ago, sending conservationists into jubilation.

 

Uganda Giraffes in Valley National Park 

Kidepo Valley National Park was gazetted into a national park in the year 1962 and currently hosts over 75 species of mammals and 470 species of birds. In the 1990s the giraffes population in Kidepo Valley National Park was reduced to only three individuals. The number of the world’s tallest mammals in this park had steadily declined in recent decades due to habitat destruction, illegal hunting poaching, and civil unrest drove giraffe populations into a freefall.

Surprisingly, the latest survey report on giraffe population in Uganda’s national park of Kidepo Valley, north of Kampala shows an increase from 36 to 80 giraffe.

With only 3000 Nubian giraffe remaining in the wild, Uganda’s Kidepo Valley National Park (kvnp) is now home to their second-largest population and has developed into an important stronghold.

Uganda Giraffes
Giraffes spotted in Kidepo Valley National

 

Uganda Giraffes in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve

The Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve is a conservation area in the Karamoja sub-region of north-eastern Uganda. It is the second largest conservation protected area in Uganda. Pian Upe derives its name from its community where “Pian” refers to a clan among the Karamajong people of north-eastern Uganda while “Upe” refers to a Kalenjin speaking pastoral community of the Karamongs who are said to have originated from the Pokot tribe in Kenya, but now settled close to the wildlife reserve in Amudat district.

In the past, the area was home to the largest giraffe population in Uganda but its giraffe populations disappeared some good years back. There was need  for efforts to conserve and bring back giraffes in Pian Upe which started in October 2019. The operation was led by the Uganda Wildlife Authority supported by the Giraffe Conservation Fund and other partners.

Pian Upe Wildlife reserve was at first a home to 5 critically endangered Nubian Giraffes. The number of giraffes translocated increased to 15 giraffes 5 males and 10 females.

In a nut Shell therefore, giraffes are not only one of the Uganda wildlife safari adventure that can be spotted during safaris, There are very many other animals including the Big five that can be seen during Uganda wildlife safaris in the same national parks or in other parks.

Other top Uganda safari activities include the gorilla & Chimpanzee safaris in Uganda, hiking, birding, white water rafting, and cultural tours. These can be tailored into the tour with visits to parks that inhabit Uganda Giraffes. Contact experienced tour operator (Umarella Voyage Safaris) that will package for you a memorable safari tour in East Africa.

 

 

 

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