KIRUHURA, February 12, 2024 – The State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Martin Mugarra, has urged Members of Parliament to push for more funding for Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA], saying it would boost the agency’s efforts to fight human-wildlife conflicts in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks.
Minister Mugarra who was accompanied by the UWA team, said most parks in the country are experiencing challenges with poaching as well as animals escaping to community land destroying life and property.
“The human-wildlife conflict is key. UWA has constructed dams in Lake Mburo National Park to keep animals from going to the communities, but they still stray. We have been praying that the UWA budget ceiling is raised to deal with such challenges,” said Mugarra.
Mugarra was addressing MPs on Committee of Tourism, Trade and Industry during the oversight visit at Lake Mburo National Park located in Kiruhura district last Friday.
The additional funding, he said would assist in fencing the park, construction of the roads within the parks currently in bad shape and staff houses.
He also averred that accommodation for local tourists is limited, yet their number has surpassed that of foreign tourists.
“We have only 10 accommodation units for local travelers. It is important that we start catering for Ugandan travelers who are now over 60 percent of Lake Mburo visitors. We want that when we have issues like the impact of the gay bill, Ugandans can sustain the tourism sector,” he said.
He argued that once Lake Mburo is sufficiently funded to have good infrastructure, it will be able to boost its annual revenue which is presently at Shs 3.2 billion.
“We will be bringing this suggestion to the finance minister to raise the UWA ceiling because we can collect that money, if you give us the money the results will come,” he said.
The MPs advised UWA to have more engagements with the communities on measures to end poaching in national parks, as they wait on the desired increased funding.
“Try your best to sensitise your communities in activities such as poaching, as you plan on fencing the park. With fencing, you can add animals such as lions which many tourists love to see,” said Toroma County MP Andrew Koluo.
At the Queen Elizabeth National Park, MPs learned of a plan to domesticate wild but edible rats [ cane rats] which are among the most poached mammals.
The legislators commended this innovative way of mitigating poaching, with Nwoya East County MP, Charles Okello saying cane rats are among the delicacies in Northern Uganda.
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