UWA gives back to communities neighboring protected areas

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Uganda Wildlife Authority –UWA has today handed over cheques worth UGX 4,479,575,644 to communities surrounding Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area.

While handing over the cheque to the district leaders of Kisoro, Kanungu and Rubanda at the Bwindi Conservation Area under the revenue sharing scheme , Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu appealed to the communities and leaders to support efforts of fighting illegal activities in protected areas.

“We are giving this money in recognition of the important role that communities play in our conservation efforts; we believe that we cannot effectively conserve wildlife without the support of the communities. I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for rallying behind UWA in conserving the two gorilla parks. It is my humble appeal to you that you continue with this support to conservation and ensure that all forms of illegal wildlife activities, are eliminated” he said.

The money will be used to finance a total of 76 projects: 17 in Kisoro, 24 in Rubanda and 35 projects in Kanungu. Four community camp sites will be funded in Bujengwe, Mpungu, Ruhija Sub County and Karangara.

One community Resource Center in Mukono Parish, Kayonza Sub County will also be set up using some of the cash and once completed, the community tourism camp sites will generate more revenue from the increasing tourism business to the community.
Prof. Kamuntu noted that government appreciates the contribution of communities neighboring protected areas in the conservation of wildlife in Uganda.

According to minister Kamuntu,the money disbursed under the revenue sharing scheme keeps on increasing because of the ever increasing number of tourists who visit the parks to track gorillas and urged them to work closely with the park management by ensuring that wrong elements do not infiltrate parks so that visitor numbers keep on swelling.

“The revenue share to the Districts will continue to increase, in response to the increasing number of tourists who come to our protected areas. I would like to appeal to everyone to play their role to ensure the parks and their surroundings do not get infiltrated by wrong elements that can cause insecurity” Kamuntu reiterated.

UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha emphasized the benefits to the community from wildlife conservation saying, “today is very historic moment when we celebrate another important milestone in our effort for sustainable wildlife conservation. In line with the UWA mission, I am pleased with the release of yet another sum of these funds which include 20% park entry fees and $10 per gorilla tracking permit sold in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park,”

He said this money will improve the livelihoods of communities and alleviate poverty. He called for adequate monitoring of the fund so that they are put to good use. “With adequate monitoring, it is our hope that the funds will be put to good use and be spent in accordance with the approved projects so that the benefit the intended people” he said.

Suspected traffickers arrested with game meat valued at 2.5M

Two suspected traffickers have been arrested in possession of wildlife body parts valued at 2.5 million Shillings.

The suspects, identified as Isaac Akobo and Isaac Soyeko, were arrested in an operation mounted by officials from Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN), Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and police in Sebei sub region.

The entities acted on a tip-off by members of the public who had seen the two arriving on motorcycles from remote parts of Bukwo district to Kapchorwa with three skins of leopard, cheetah and a serval cat.

Police says the suspects had booked a special hotel room in town that they planned to transact business in wild game products with buyers whom they did not disclose their identity.

The police CID officer, David Mayanja Bisaso said the two are suspected to have been carrying out the illegal wildlife business from parts of Western Kenya and selling the products to buyers in Uganda.

He said that the suspects, now in police custody, will be arraigned in court later today to face charges of being in possession of wildlife products against the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Act.

Section 30 of the UWA Act stipulates that no person may engage in any activities which involve the utilization of wildlife and wildlife products without first obtaining a grant of a wildlife use right.

Police says that they are launching an investigation to identify the source of the animal trophies.

The Chief Executive Officer for Natural Resource Conservation Network Vincent Opyene said, once police establishes the exact country where the trophies originated from, they will follow up with the said country to ensure that the trophies are handed to that respective country.

This, he says, is according to the memorandum of understanding the countries that are experiencing poaching and trafficking activities reached when African countries met in  Johannesburg, South Africa to discuss  the fate of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Abel Ahabwe, the senior investigations officer with NRCN says human-wildlife conflict in Uganda and many other countries threatens cheetah survival.

Ahabwe adds that habitat loss for such wildlife also presents a major threat to cheetahs saying, “As human populations grow and expand, agriculture, roads, and settlements destroy the open grasslands that cheetahs favor.”

-URN

Lion on the loose in Kyenjojo killed to save residents

By Robert Ssegawa
A lion that has been giving residents sleepless nights has been killed in Kyenjojo district. The lion escaped from Queen Elizabeth national park.
It was killed  during an operation mounted by police and officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority. Twesigye Julius who was leading the team from UWA says people should always report to police when they see wild animal in area.