Giraffe Reintroduced to Angola's Iona National Park
Fourteen (14) Angolan giraffe have been successfully relocated to Iona National Park, Angola, as part of an ongoing conservation effort to restore and enrich the park's biodiversity. This is the first of multiple giraffe translocations to ensure a viable population in the park.
Angola, Moçâmedes, 7th July, 2023 - In an effort to restore species diversity in Iona National Park, African Parks, the Government of Angola and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation have partnered to bring back Angolan giraffe after an extended absence. This week, 14 giraffe made the long journey from a private game farm in central Namibia to their historical range in Angola. The move highlights the commitment to restore the species diversity historically present in Iona National Park. The translocation was sponsored by the Wyss Foundation and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.
Abias Huongo, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Environment, said, "The reintroduction of giraffe to Iona National Park is a remarkable milestone in Angola's conservation journey. This significant endeavour demonstrates our commitment to preserving our country's natural heritage. Together, we are building a future where both people and wildlife thrive.”
After their capture in Namibia, the giraffe travelled over 1,300km in a specially designed truck for 36 hours from 3rd to 5th of July. The reintroduction of Angolan giraffe to Iona National Park plays an important role in restoring the park's ecosystem functions as well as re-establishing the region’s ecological processes. Giraffe assist in shaping the vegetation through browsing and dispersal of seeds due to their selective feeding habits.
Stephanie Fennessy, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, said, "This collaborative effort of bringing giraffe back to Iona National Park is an extraordinary achievement for giraffe conservation in Angola. By reintroducing giraffe to their historical range, we re-establish their range, ensure their long-term survival and contribute to restoring the ecological balance in the region. We look forward to continuing to work closely with all partners involved for the long-term success of this project."
A thorough feasibility study was conducted prior to the operation by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation. The assessment evaluated various factors, including the source population, habitat suitability, human dimensions, risks during and after the operation, as well as financial feasibility. Based on the positive results and the commitment of all stakeholders, the translocation was recommended and put into action. In addition, African Parks conducted a survey amongst the communities in and around the periphery of Iona National Park to evaluate local community perceptions of the proposed translocation of giraffe. The assessment revealed that the majority of Iona inhabitants are highly receptive to the presence of giraffe in the park and the tourism potential they may bring.
Pedro Monterroso, Park Manager at Iona National Park, said, "The reintroduction of giraffe to Iona marks a critical moment in the park's history. These graceful animals will contribute to the restoration of the park's biodiversity and serve as a symbol of Angola's commitment to conservation. We are grateful for the partnership with the Government of Angola, Giraffe Conservation Foundation, and the support from the Wyss Foundation in making this translocation possible."
Whilst giraffe populations in general have declined in the past 35 years due to habitat loss, poaching, and other human-induced factors, recent targeted giraffe conservation efforts have seen positive effects and several populations have started to rebound. Conserving and protecting giraffe is crucial not only for their own survival but also for maintaining the balance and functionality of Africa's ecosystems. The successful translocation of Angolan giraffe to Iona National Park serves as a testament to the importance of cross-border conservation efforts for the overall protection of Africa’s unique biodiversity.
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Notes to editors:
About Iona National Park: Iona National Park is situated in south-western Angola and is known for its remarkable beauty and diverse landscapes. Spanning a vast area of 15,150 km2, the park has been under the management of African Parks in partnership with the Government of Angola since 2019. With a shared vision of conservation and sustainable development, this collaboration aims to protect and preserve the park's natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of people and wildlife through responsible ecotourism and positive community engagement. The wildlife in Iona National Park includes aardwolf, chacma baboon, vervet monkey, greater kudu, mountain zebra, impala, springbok, steenbok, oryx, brown hyena, leopard, black-backed jackal, and cheetah. The Park is also known for its varied birdlife, especially along the coastal area and riparian environments.
Ministry of Environment (MINAMB), Angola: The Ministry of the Environment, abbreviated as MINAMB, is the Ministerial Department whose mission is to propose the formulation, conduct, execute and control the Executive's policy regarding the environment in a perspective of protection, preservation and conservation of environmental quality, pollution control, areas of conservation and enhancement of the natural heritage, as well as the preservation and rational use of natural resources.
About Giraffe Conservation Foundation: The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only organisation in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa. GCF currently implements and/or supports giraffe conservation efforts in 19 African countries, impacting over 100 million acres of giraffe habitat. As an international science-based conservation organisation, GCF provides innovative approaches to saving all four species of giraffe and continues to make significant contributions to advancing giraffe conservation in the wild.
About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that assumes responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks manages 22 national parks and protected areas in 12 countries covering over 20 million hectares in Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.