Poaching spikes amid lockdown

Saturday July 25 2020

In this file photo,  a game ranger is pictured

In this file photo, a game ranger is pictured near a mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. Authorities say Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has seen a spike in poaching in national parks which imposes a danger to tourism sector. PHOTO| Prime Uganda Safari 

By NOBERT ATUKUNDA

Covid-19 pandemic lockdown has seen a spike in poaching in national parks which imposes a danger to tourism sector.

Dr Margaret Driciru the principal warden Queen Elizabeth National Park said they found out that poaching increased during lockdown with over 10 animals for every 100km patrolled.

"We do patrols, we call them resource protection patrols and they look at particular threats and once you find a particular threat you make a record. That's why if you find an animal poached you mark a point that at the end of it all you do an analysis..., we realised that for every 100km the rangers were patrolling, poaching rate had now increased beyond 10 and before it was less," Dr Driciru said.

She made the remarks during the official handover of the ranger outpost in Queen Elizabeth National park by Head of European Union.

Ambassador Attilio Pacific the head of the European union delegation in Uganda said that the ranger outpost, among other forms of capacity support, aims at reducing poaching in the national parks, safeguarding tourists visiting the area and promoting tourism activities as well as investments.

"Tourism is 90 per cent natural resources based, thanks to Uganda's unique and very rich biodiversity. Wildlife which is the main tourist attraction in Uganda exists because of a wide variety of habitats in Uganda most of which are unfortunately under threat even in the protected areas," Ambassador Pacific said.

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This brings on board 12 additional rooms making it 344 units in total. This is out of 450 units needed to ensure all staff are reasonably accommodated in the conservation area.

Mr Sam Mwandha, the executive director Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said poaching and illegal grazing are vices that will not be tolerated any further and game rangers ought to treat them as matters of urgency.

"I am aware of the fact that poaching and illegal grazing are still high ...if you are the in charge of, for example, Simama and it is discovered that illegal activities are being committed in your area of operation but you are neither reporting nor stopping them, you will have to explain why you should not be disciplined," Mr Mwandha said.

However, Mr Mwandha said there is need for vehicles, data collection equipment to enhance the ability to monitor and prevent illegal activities.

Mr Tom Butime, minister of Tourism, wildlife and Antiquities said issues discussed will be looked into adding that Tourism will bounce back strongly and the sector will play a big role in recovery of economy in post lockdown.

natukunda@ug.nation media.com

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