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Kidepo lions get more prey

Uganda Wildlife Association officials capture one of the kobs in Kabwoya

Uganda Wildlife Association officials capture one of the kobs in Kabwoya

Alarmed by the fast-declining predator population in Kidepo Valley National Park, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has intervened by providing easy prey for the big cats in the expansive, remote northeastern conservation area.

Predators such as lions, cheetahs, and leopards are popular tourist attractions in the park. Hence these predators, especially lions, make a huge contribution to the country’s coffers through tourism revenues.

Ironically, lions are the most affected. Latest estimates show the number of lions in Kidepo has dropped by more than half from 132 cats three years ago. Currently, the number of lions is estimated at between 15 and 30, according to David Okiring, the assistant warden in-charge of tourism at Kidepo Valley national park.

The cheetah population is also estimated in the same range. Okiring said the cheetahs’ estimate is based on sightings because the park authority has not yet carried out a comprehensive survey in recent years.

It is against this background that UWA took the first major step towards restoring the lion population last week by translocating kobs from the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve on the shores of Lake Albert to Kidepo. The kobs will be easy prey for the lions compared to the buffaloes.

Before the start of last week’s translocation from Kabwoya, the population of kobs in Kidepo was estimated at a mere 350. Officials are optimistic that the addition of 200 kobs through the recent translocation exercise will quickly ease hunting for the predators.

An estimated 8,000 buffaloes roam the Kidepo area, which includes community land and the park’s expansive conversation valleys. But the buffaloes are not easy prey for the lions and cheetahs.

Okiring explained: “This translocation will help keep the lions fed because they will automatically eat the kobs; of course, they will be getting the weak ones. It becomes easier for the lions to hunt kobs than buffaloes because buffaloes resist and always injure them [lions]. and we have already had those scenarios several times.”

He added: “So, the option of boosting the prey population in Kidepo is very crucial because we shall have a healthy population of not only the lions and cheetahs but also the leopards, which also feed on the same kobs. I think with this [Kobs translocation] we shall restore a healthy population of lions in the next few years.”

On the other hand, the translocation of kobs is an advantage to the Kabwoya Reserve, where overgrazing is already affecting the wildlife. According to official figures, the number of kobs grew from 10 in 1996 to 8,000 last year.

The reserve is in the Kaiso-Tonya area of the Albertine region, where officials anticipate the ongoing oil exploration activities could have adverse impact on the animals.


0 #1 Lysol 2023-03-22 20:41
Nature has a way of balancing itself.
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