The exercise is good to decongest one park and offer another a species on the verge of extinction elsewhere
The ongoing exercise of translocating 150 kobs by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) from Murchison Falls National Park to Kidepo Valley National Park is nearing completion after 90 of them got new addresses by Tuesday.
All the animals arrived in good shape save for one that suffered a right hind leg strain and was kept in captivity temporarily.
“We have more than 40,000 kobs in Murchison Falls,” revealed Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) executive director Edward Seguya.
“This is way too much for the park’s carrying capacity. So the exercise is good to decongest one park and offer another a species on the verge of extinction elsewhere.”
Improvising a capture method of constructing a tented triangle with movable tarpaulin curtains and six cars drove the animals towards a set enclosure. Some of the suspicious animals went flying over the six foot wall. Some hit a dead end and slid to the ground before being grabbed by a team of rangers.
Asked if the translocation of the kobs to semi-arid Karamoja was not a gimmick to provide food for the lions in Kidepo, officials laughed off the matter.
“Before the translocation of kobs to Kidepo, lions lived in there, in even bigger numbers. And they were feasting on a variety of their prey,” countered UWA spokesman Gessa Simplicious.
“This translocation exercise is a normal conservation exercise applied to reintroduce species that are endangered by extinction in an area. We have done it before with elands, giraffes and zebras.”
On arrival in Kidepo, the animals popped out of their cages with energy, looked right and left before hopping away from the lorry. They split in groups of five and six. With gloved horns, the males were already marking territory which is green with fresh grass. They prefer open areas where they can keep an eye on predators.
Dr. Margaret Driciru in Murchison Falls said the animals had their blood samples taken and were tranquilized to reduce the shock of travelling in a lorry for the first time.
“It is like a human being flying for the first time,” said Driciru. “We get the blood samples to be able to monitor their health status. It is just a procedure. In case they get adoption challenges we know what to do.”
She added that although their method is not the easiest, they have improved from catching 6 to 30 animals in a single exercise which lasts less than 15 minutes.