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White-eared kob sighted on Ugandan soil after two decades

White-eared kob. PHOTO via @ugwildlife

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A male white-eared kob technically known as Kobus kob leucotis has appeared for the first time in two decades in Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve in Karamoja.

The white-eared Kob was sighted by the Ecological Monitoring and Research Unit of Uganda Wildlife Authority – UWA on May 23rd, 2019 between 09:09 am and 09:13 am while conducting a ground trothing study of vegetation change analysis in the park.

Uganda Wildlife Authority broke news of the rare sighting this month, saying the white eared Kob was last sighted between May and June 1996 close to Lake Opeta during an aerial survey in the same park in Southern Karamoja.

Once feared almost extinct because of the second Sudanese civil war (1983–2005), the existence of the White eared Kob was later confirmed in surveys conducted in 2007 in which several hundred thousand white-eared kobs were documented to survive.

Uganda Wildlife Authority says the Kobs participate in one of the largest mammal migrations on earth, numbering about 1.2 million in total as of this year. They are mostly found in Boma, Badingilo National Parks and Zeraf Game Reserve in South Sudan as well as the Gambella National Park in Ethiopia.

A statement posted on Uganda Wildlife Authority Website, says the White Eared Kob is a rare and unique premium addition in the tourism calendar of Uganda’s largest Wildlife Reserve, Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve (PUWR) located in Nakapiripirit District in the north-eastern Uganda.

The report prepared by Fred Wanyama from the Ecological Monitoring and Research Unit and three others states that they took photos and videos of the mammal alongside the global positioning system location of their sighting for referencing.

The unit recommends that government controls the heavy use of the Wildlife Reserve by livestock pastoralists to protect the animal habitat from degradation through implementation of the zoning system for the Kob to habit the area once again.

“The month of “May” could be associated with the movement pattern of the White Eared Kob in south karamoja. Monitoring of this subspecies should be intensified in this month in the 2 sites of morukali hill and areas close to Lake Opeta in the southern part” the statement recommends.

The Uganda Kob is an important National Symbol in the Uganda Coat of Arm signifying abundance of wildlife in Uganda. Anything which threatens the existence of the Kobs directly affects the core existence of Uganda’s tourism sector as it is one of the animal species responsible for the high economic boom of carnivores – Lions, Leopards and even Crocodiles snatch them while drinking water in some of Uganda’s major National Parks. Besides, they are a major attraction themselves in Murchison Falls National Parks.

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