The minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) Mrs Maria Mutagamba has said wildlife is the bedrock of the tourism industry as the second highest foreign exchange earner and it is without question that Uganda Wildlife Authority is one of the best performing government agencies.
Mrs Mutagamba was on April 3 speaking at the pass out 430 UWA rangers who had completed a four and a half months training in basic military skills and wildlife management at the Murchison Falls Training ground, Paraa, Nwoya district.
She told the rangers comprising 76 female and 354 males recruited from all the seven conservation areas of Uganda that they are joining one of the most thriving sectors in the country.
According to the minister, government has rationalized the wildlife protected areas network by gazetting 25,981.57sq km as wildlife conservation areas. It is however estimated that 50% of Uganda's wildlife resources still remain outside the protected areas, mostly on privately owned land and is most urgent concern for protection and development.
She however decried the acts of rampant poaching and illegal trade being driven by the increased international demand for wildlife products such as ivory and rhino horns among others. She accordingly applauded UWA for having made a decision to beef up staffing in the protected areas to decisively deal with the treats that face wildlife including poaching, illegal gazing and encroachment.
The minister hailed the central government for the rehabilitation of key tourism roads including Kabale-Kisoro, and the Fort Portal-Bundibugyo which has greatly improved the experience of tourists visiting/tracking the gorillas in Bwindi and Mgahinga and the hot springs(Semuliki P).She however asked for government intervention o the following tourism roads including :Ishasha-Katunguru(100kms),Buhoma-Ruhija-Kabale(85km)Kisoro-Nkuingo(50km)and Kitgum-Orom-Karenga(80km).She said these roads lead to our most prime parks such as Bwindi and Kidepo.