Govt closes Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary over attacks

Wednesday April 21 2021
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The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has temporarily closed Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakitoma Sub-county, Nakasongola District, over unending fights between two parties managing the facility.

By Dan Wandera
By Franklin Draku

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has temporarily closed Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakitoma Sub-county, Nakasongola District, over unending fights between two parties managing the facility.
In a statement issued by Mr Hangi Bashir, the public relations manager of  UWA, the authority  said in line with their  mandate of protecting wildlife resources as per the Uganda Wildlife Act, 2019, they have taken over  security of  the rhinos at Ziwa sanctuary. 

“UWA has, with immediate effect, closed Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to the public and as such, no tourism activities will be undertaken until further notice. UWA realised that the conflict could potentially compromise the safety of the rhinos and took this decision to avert the threat,” UWA said.

The closure of the facility comes after  last week’s incident where unknown people  vandalised  the  sanctuary office equipment, including computers and documents.
 UWA said there have been persistent misunderstandings between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR), the owners of the land where the rhinos are being bred, and Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), a non-governmental organisation that manages the rhinos at the sanctuary. 

Ziwa Rhinos and Wildlife Ranches and the Rhino Fund Uganda have for the last five years been embroiled in a row over the management of the sanctuary. 
 Police in Nakasongola have since arrested and detained 27 people in connection with  last week’s  incident.
UWA also said they will try to bring the two parties to iron out their differences without resorting to violence.
However, the closure of the sanctuary could cost the sector an estimated Shs45b in a final translocation exercise once a safer environment for the endangered herbivores is established.

Unlike other animals  in protected areas, relocating rhinos is costly since one is required to conduct an environment impact assessment for the new location and also establish  better infrastructure and guarantee security, among others.  Mr Hangi said  translocating the between 30 and 50 rhinos  costs an estimated Shs45b,  excluding purchasing  land for  relocation. 

the conflict
The dispute  is between the family of Capt Joseph Charles Roy who owns the lease and the management of Rhino Fund Uganda. In 2017, Capt Roy terminated the concession with both the Rhino Fund Uganda and the D and D International lodges after a disagreement but Rhino Fund Uganda sought arbitration through court as provided in an earlier agreement between the two parties over the management of the sanctuary.
 

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