Friday May 23 2014

Ugandan zoos to meet international standards

Tourism minister Ms Maria Mutagamba feeds a

Tourism minister Ms Maria Mutagamba feeds a giraffe at Uwec recently. Uwec wants to get international certification for zoos to improve tourism numbers as well as mobilising funds. PHOTO BY Martin Ssebuyira.  

By Martin Ssebuyira

Uganda Wildlife Education Centre has started the process of getting internationally recognised standards for zoos.
The accreditation, according to Mr James Musinguzi, the Uwec executive director, will not only increase the centre’s visitor numbers but will help in acquisition of development grants from donor agencies.

“Inspectors have already conducted audits. We are waiting for their response to get the certification,” he said at the launch of the 25th African Association of Zoos and Aquaria conference in Kampala on Wednesday.

State minister for Tourism Agnes Akiror said there is a need to expedite the process in order to convince the wider community that zoos are relevant and can handle the welfare of wild animals in a good and acceptable manner.

“I know this won’t come by chance, but will be a result of the excellent work at Uwec and the continuous efforts towards establishing a professionally driven team of zoo managers,” she said.

The African Association of Zoos and Aquaria seeks to promote the conservation of wildlife on the continent through mitigating measures that can support the growth of zoos and aquaria across the continent.

Ms Akiror said zoos across the globe receive more than 700m visitors annually, which creates a great avenue for revenue generation and influencing behavior change towards positive self-conservation.

The conference attracted more than 50 international participants from the USA, UK, Austria, South Africa, Rwanda, DR Congo, Cyprus and Uganda among others.

Uwec is one of Uganda’s major centres that play an important role in wildlife conservation and growth of Uganda’s tourism sector.