Uganda Wild Authority celebrates 25 years; Urges the public to get involved in conservation
Increase in wildlife populations, addressing human-wildlife conflicts and biological management of vegetation amongst the achievements of Uganda Wildlife Authority 25 years of service.
While addressing the media at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Tom Butime highlighted revealed that the Authority has played a fundamental role in the social economic transformation of the country, a milestone worth celebration.
According to Minister Butime, UWA has since registered an increase in wildlife populations for most animal species including mountain gorillas, elephants, buffalos, giraffes among others and also the rhinos that had been declared extinct in the country by the year 1994.
“At the moment Uganda has a population of over 400 gorillas, 7,975 elephants, 44,000 buffalos, 17,516 burchell’s zebra and over 2,000 giraffes all this as a result of a combination of factors ranging from good policies to improved security for the wildlife” Butimeadded.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority that was established in August 1996 under the Uganda Wildlife Statue which merged the country’s National Parks and Game department will this year be celebrating its Silver Jubilee on June 24th.
After the establishment in the late 90’s the institution inherited challenges that included limited financial resources, lack of institutional policies and demoralized staff but according to the Minister there has been a lot of transformation that has led to effective protection and conservation of wildlife in Uganda.
“All policies for good governance including strategic plans, human resource manual, board charter, annual operations plans and other operation and strategic policies have been developed and are being implemented to ensure efficient running of the institution” Butime added.
UWA under the tourism sector lately contributes 9% of the country’s GDP due to its provision of over 1 million jobs in the country and over 1 billion USD earned in foreign exchange.
In the bid to increase community relationship and the conservation of wildlife in Uganda, UWA through the wildlife Act provides for a 20% of all gate entry fees to be shared with communities surrounding the protected areas for communities to feel the positive impact of conservation in their areas hence community development.
While emphasizing the benefits of Parishes that border protected areas, UWA executive director Sam Mwandha said that a total of 21.4billion UGX was distributed amongst different parishes in 2019 but however due to the covid19 pandemic the process was slow in the past two years.
“We are also using the Parish Development Model to ensure that communities at the parish level are also benefiting” Mwandha added.
The Executive Director called upon Ugandans not to worry about the numbers of lions which currently stand at over 300 across the country, he further called for increased protection of the environment calling upon everyone to get involved in their capacity.
The media launch of the UWA’s silver jubilee celebrations will be followed by several events including the conservation conference on June 21st, the corporate social responsibility on June 23rd and the launch of the UWA magazine at Sheraton hotel on June 24th.