By Fred Kiva
Oil operators Total E&P Uganda have launched a one-year campaign involving collaring 40 selected Wildlife species and to assess their movement patterns, general ecological behaviors and stress level in relation to environmental factors in the Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP).
According to a statement by the Public Relations Officer Christopher Ocowun, Total E&P has contracted Giraffe Conservation Foundation Trust (GCFT) and Biodiversity Solution Limited (BSL) in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to conduct the one year exercise.
“Different wildlife species to include lions, giraffes, hyenas, Uganda kobs, Hartebeests, Giraffes and Reedbucks collared, will be used as samples to track the animals, analyze, interpret and monitor their movement patterns; including the rate of movement, daily distance moved and distribution of the collared individuals across MFNP,” Ocuwuni said.
The campaign that started at the beginning of April 2018, involves fitting of satellite collars on Rothschild’s giraffes, Lions, Uganda kob, Bohor Reedbuck, Lelwel’s Hartebeest and Spotted Hyena lions. It targets six (6) individuals of each species in separate social animal group and in different areas of Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP).
“UWA field veterinarians are providing technical assistance including immobilizing the animals,” Ocowun explained.
He said through this exercise Total E&P Uganda, together with UWA and the conservation partners will be able to understand the preferred habits and seasonal movements of the wildlife species within the park and help assess, understand, avoid or manage potential impacts of the Tilenga Project development on these species.
“This is in line with Total’s commitments to ensure that Environmental and Social Impact Assessment studies are undertaken in the entire Tilenga project area to identify all potential impacts, put measures to avoid them every time possible or have mitigation measures developed to address them,” Ocowun emphasized.
The exercise that started with collaring of elephants in 2014 - 2016, covers the entire MFNP with emphasis on the project foot print areas of Buligi, Pakuba and Tangi gate and areas of Wangkwar, Chobe and Borassus forest area.
There has been concern by conservationists that oil exploration activities, especially in protected areas could negatively impact on the natural biodiversity. However Total E&P emphasizes, “Our operations are governed by a biodiversity charter with guidelines for undertaking our activities. We also work closely with an independent Biodiversity and Livelihoods Advisory Committee, comprising of national and international experts in the field of biodiversity and environment management to ensure that operations are carried out with respect to the environment and biodiversity.”