Giraffes reintroduced to Angola's Iona National Park

Up to 14 giraffes have been transferred from a private game reserve to a historical range in Angola.Picture: Priya Takriwal via Africa Parks

Up to 14 giraffes have been transferred from a private game reserve to a historical range in Angola.Picture: Priya Takriwal via Africa Parks

Published Jul 9, 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 giraffes after an extended absence.

The first week of July 2023 saw 14 giraffes make 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 with the translocation sponsored by the Wyss Foundation and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Abias Huongo, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Environment, said in a press release that "the reintroduction of giraffes 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 between July 3-5 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. Giraffes 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 that "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,” Fennessy said.

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.

A survey conducted by African Parks found that the majority of local community members 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 giraffes 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.”

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.