Rewilding Angola: Giraffe Reintroduced to Iona National Park

Fourteen (14) Angolan giraffes have been successfully relocated to Iona National Park in Angola as part of a significant effort to restore and enhance the park’s biodiversity. This marks the first step in a series of giraffe translocations aimed at establishing a sustainable population within the park.

Moçâmedes, Angola, 7th July, 2023 – African Parks, in collaboration with the Government of Angola and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, has partnered to reintroduce Angolan giraffes to Iona National Park after an extended absence. This week, 14 giraffes made the journey from a private game farm in central Namibia to their historical range in Angola. The translocation reflects a commitment to restore the diverse array of species that once thrived in Iona National Park. Generous sponsorship from the Wyss Foundation and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation supported this endeavor.

Abias Huongo, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Environment, expressed the significance of the giraffe reintroduction, stating, “The reintroduction of giraffes to Iona National Park is a notable milestone in Angola’s conservation efforts. It showcases our dedication to preserving our country’s natural heritage, and our goal of creating a future where both people and wildlife can thrive.”

The giraffes endured a challenging journey, traveling over 1,300 kilometers in a specially designed truck for 36 hours from the 3rd to the 5th of July. The reintroduction of Angolan giraffes plays a vital role in restoring the park’s ecosystem functions and reestablishing essential ecological processes in the region. Giraffes, known for their selective feeding habits, shape vegetation through browsing and seed dispersal.

Stephanie Fennessy, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, emphasized the collaborative efforts, stating, “The reintroduction of giraffes to Iona National Park is an extraordinary achievement for giraffe conservation in Angola. By returning giraffes to their historical range, we are reviving their habitat, ensuring their long-term survival, and contributing to restoring ecological balance in the region. We look forward to continued collaboration with all partners involved for the project’s long-term success.”

Prior to the operation, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation conducted a comprehensive feasibility study, assessing factors such as source population, habitat suitability, human dimensions, risks during and after the operation, and financial feasibility. Based on positive results and the commitment of all stakeholders, the translocation was recommended and put into action. Additionally, African Parks conducted a survey among communities in and around Iona National Park to evaluate local perceptions of the giraffe translocation. The assessment revealed that the majority of residents welcomed the presence of giraffes and recognized the potential benefits for tourism in the park.

Pedro Monterroso, Park Manager at Iona National Park, described the reintroduction as a pivotal moment in the park’s history, stating, “The return of giraffes to Iona marks an important milestone. These majestic animals will contribute to the restoration of biodiversity and symbolize Angola’s commitment to conservation. We extend our gratitude to the Government of Angola, the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and the generous support from the Wyss Foundation for making this translocation possible.”

While giraffe populations have experienced declines due to habitat loss, poaching, and other human-induced factors, targeted conservation efforts have shown positive results, leading to population recoveries in certain areas. Protecting and conserving giraffes is crucial not only for their survival but also for maintaining the delicate balance and functionality of Africa’s ecosystems. The successful translocation of Angolan giraffes to Iona National Park highlights the importance of cross-border conservation efforts in safeguarding Africa’s unique biodiversity.

Source: African Parks

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