The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is set to reintroduce the Northern White Rhino to Ajai Wildlife Reserve in the Madi Okollo district by 2025. This initiative follows a longstanding demand from the local community, aiming to leverage the reserve’s potential to boost tourism in the sub-region.
John Makombo, the Director of Conservation at the Uganda Wildlife Authority, outlined the steps leading up to the rhino reintroduction. The UWA plans to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, establish an enclosure fence for the white rhinos, and undertake habitat manipulation. Habitat manipulation involves clearing the reserve’s bushes to create a suitable environment for rhinos, who prefer short pastures for grazing.
The reintroduction process will also involve the introduction of other animal species, such as zebras, kob, and giraffes, before the actual translocation of the rhinos from the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola District to Ajai Wildlife Reserve.
Ajai Wildlife Reserve, covering an area of 166 sq. km, was once home to Northern White Rhinos until their extinction in the 1970s and 1980s due to lawlessness. The restoration of the reserve is expected to contribute to the development of tourism and the overall economic growth of the region.
Currently, Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary houses about 35 white rhinos, thanks to the breeding program initiated by the Ugandan government through the Uganda Wildlife Authority in the 2005/2006 financial year. The rhino reintroduction to Ajai Wildlife Reserve reflects Uganda’s commitment to conservation efforts and the preservation of endangered species.