A joint team of experts from Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) in January this year, successfully translocated 20 giraffes from the northern bank of the Victoria Nile to southern bank within the expansive Murchison Falls National Park.
Of the targeted 20 giraffes captured,18 were transferred to the southern bank while two were taken to UWEC Entebbe where they are reported to have settled in very well.
The objectives of the translocation were to establish a viable, free-ranging giraffe population in the south bank of MFNP; expand the range of the giraffes in light of the oil and gas activities in their current range; boost tourism south of the Nile and increase revenue for conservation activities, enhance the long term survival of the species, restore natural biodiversity and long-term economic benefits to the local and national economy and finally promote conservation education and awareness.
Wildlife translocation is a globally recognised management tool in conservation and is used, among others, to; manage populations and environment by reducing habitat destruction and allow for restoration of the degraded ones, introduce and re-introduce species into new and former range/habitats with the aim to re-enforce or diversify species in a locality to enhance survival rate, address problem animal cases, carry out wildlife farming/enterprise development, carry out breeding programs, research and species monitoring activities such as active wildlife disease investigations,habituation and rehabilitation of orphaned or disadvantaged animals to capture facilities for education and ecotourism.
UWA has had a long history of wildlife translocation in the country over the years dating back from giraffe translocation to Kidepo Valley national park (1997), Luwero and Mubende elephant translocations (1999-2000), Kidepo eland translocation (2004), Kabwoya hartebeest/waterbuck/Giant Forest Hog translocation (2007), Katonga impala and zebra translocation (2012), Lake Mburo giraffe translocation (2015) among others.
Other planned wildlife translocation activities for the next financial years include buffaloes and topis to Pian Upe Wildlife Reserve, Uganda kobs to Kidepo Valley national park, Zebras to Katonga Wildlife Reserve and Hartebeests to Tooro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
Management at UWA is convinced that the translocation exercise will help increase the population of the endangered Rothschild’s giraffes in MFNP from the current 860 individuals as per our 2014 census through successful natural breeding in the south bank. The translocation exercise was boosted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) represented by Dr. Julian Fennessy who co-funded the translocation by donating to UWA a new specialized truck valued at USD $ 37,500. At the same time, UWEC did not only provide experienced personnel but also supported the equipment fabrication in form of a cart truck.
Earlier in June 2015, another 15 giraffes were translocated from Murchison Falls NP to Lake Mburo National Park which has boosted tourist visitation to the area.
A new born was discovered on 11/09/2016 by the trackers who had gone to track Bikyingi gorilla group. It is believed to have been born the previous day (10/09/2016). The new born brings the number of gorilla individuals in the group to 22.
Bikyingi gorilla group is located in Rushaga, South of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and comprises of 21 individuals i.e. 1 silver back, 9 adult females 2 sub adults and 9 infants. It is one of the two groups that are undergoing habituation in the park. Bikyingi is also the group where the famous Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) is conducted at the moment. Habituation of the group started in 2013 while the GHE started in January 2015. The last birth among the gorillas in BINP was on 21/08/2016 in Bushaho- a group under habituation located in Nkuringo in the Southern sector of the park.
Bikyingi group was first sited in Bikyingi area, near Rushaga before the process to habituate it started, hence it was decided to name it according to the area. The only silver back and leader of the group was also named Bikyingi. Naming of the other individuals has not yet been done as the gorillas are still shy because they are not yet fully habituated. Therefore, the mother of the new born does not bear a name at the moment. With the 9 adult females, all with babies, it is a very interesting and amazing group to visit for the Gorilla Habituation Experience.
The other special thing of Bikyingi group is that the silver back-Bikyingi is very friendly to all the babies in the group and is always with them most of the time, more time than the babies, except the newly born, stay with their mothers. The babies mainly go to their mothers to breast feed and return to the silver back as soon as they are done with breast feeding! This is one of the reasons it has been difficult to determine the mothers of particular babies as all the adult females in the group have babies.
It was joy and happiness in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) following the birth of a new baby gorilla on 21/08/2016. The baby gorilla was discovered in Bushaho area on 22/08/2016, a day after it born to Bunyindo-one of the four adult females in Bushaho gorilla group. The group is located in Nkuringo in the Southern sector of BINP and is one of the two groups in the park which have been under habituation since 2013. Habituation the group is expected to end in 2017. The second group that is under habituation is Bikyingi to which the visitors for the popular Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) are taken.
Prior to its habituation, Bushaho group frequently ranged in Bushaho area from which it derived its name. The birth of the new born brought the number of gorilla individuals in the group to nine (09) and the composition of the group is: 1 silver back, 1 black back, 4 adult females, 1 juvenile and 2 infants. Bahati, who leads the group is the only silver back in the group at the moment. He had been habituated earlier when he was still in Nkuringo group until he left Nkuringo group in around 2012 to live a solitary life. It was during that solitude that he grabbed some wild individuals to form his own group that was later named Bushaho.
By EDGAR R. BATTE
Uganda has reduced the visa fees for single entry into the country effective July 22 to $50. The recent increase of the visa charge from $50 to $100 had attracted pleas for a reversal from stakeholders in the sector as it was bound to make Uganda a more expensive destination. Currently, Kenya charges $50 while Rwanda charges $30 for the same visas.
"Even after several lobbying and advocacy done by the private sector to reduce the cost of the visa, the new financial budget hadn't take into account this, making Uganda once again an expensive destination," Carmen Nibigira, coordinator of the East African Tourism Platform says.
In a letter to the Minister of Finance, Mr Matia Kasaija, president of the Uganda Tourism Association, Mr Boniface Byamukama, had implored the minister to have visa fees reduced because it would makes Uganda a very expensive and less attractive destination.
Byamukama explains that the impression created in the minds of the travellers is negative and yet perception is a huge influencing factor and this greatly affects a traveller's choice of destination.
Affecting bilateral agreements
He adds, "Comparatively like Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, Foreign Nationals wishing to obtain a Rwandan visa pay US$30. In view of bilateral agreements, nationals of specific countries are permitted to visit Rwanda without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. Kenyan visa fee is $50."According to Babara Adoso, president of Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), the immigration directorate needs to be sensitised more and probably receive some training in line with the manner of handling the East Africa Visa.
"We are a law-enforcement agency. When the visa fees were revised upwards, we saw it as an anomaly. We went to Ministry of Finance to inquire and we were told that it was a directive from parliament and they could not do much about changing the fees. It is unfair to charge the same fee to someone coming into Uganda for a single entry with another who is paying for 'multiple entry'," argued Mr Wilberforce Ngonde, assistant commissioner for immigration, during a meeting with industry stakeholders, last Wednesday.
Uganda's policy is to encourage promotion of tourism. "But how many embassies do we have internationally? There are no immigration offices at the embassies. That is why we introduced the online platform for visa platform (E-Visa)," the commissioner explains.
The E- Visa
According to Jacob Siminyu, the Ministry of Internal Affairs Public Relations Officer (PRO), besides promoting tourism, the online platform will help in promoting investment, enhance service delivery and promote security since it will help immigration cross-check information with different data bases and security agencies to make sure people coming into Uganda do not pose any security risk.
"We have so far issued about 6, 000 applications (as of last Monday). We have capacity to process a visa in one day though our official time line is two to three days," Siminyu adds.
According to a press statement from Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), the Government of Uganda introduced the online visa application system with effect from July 1, 2016. "All persons intending to come to Uganda for holiday, tourism, business, study, visit, medical are required to apply and obtain a visa online. Applications should be filled at the following link: https://visas.immigration.go.ug," the statement explains in part. However, some complaints have since been registered that the website on which tourists should access visa application has reportedly been down.
Siminyu says that they have not experienced any such challenges and adds that the problem tourists face is not adhering to time. "The system is time-sensitive. It is not a process you can abandon and do something else. You need to pay attention to it for about 20 straight minutes. It is advisable that you have all the necessary documents before starting to apply for a permit or visas," the ministry's publicist explains. Through the month of July, it will still be possible to get visas on arrival. However, the traveller will have to go through the electronic application process at the port of entry.
How it works
When an applicant starts the process, their application will be sent electronically through the email provided. If approved, an approval letter will be sent as an attachment to the email provided. The type of visas will include multiple-entry, diplomatic and official, ordinary, East Africa Tourist Visa (multiple entry valid for 90 days to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) and transit visas.
Siminyu explains that a visitor is required to upload clear copies of current passport, Yellow fever certificate and Passport photo. On completion of the online application, one will receive a barcoded email notification. They will be required to print out the email and bring it with them to Uganda. Upon arrival at any border (entry point), they must present the barcoded email. The immigration officer will scan the barcode, take your fingerprints and photo and ask for the $100 cash payment for the visa.
Notably, Uganda only accepts USD bills dated 2006 or newer and in excellent condition. A visa sticker will be printed with your photo and placed in your passport. But tourism stakeholders feel the visa fees are too high and making business bad.
Uganda is composed of a diverse and rich cultural heritage expressed in arts and performances, social norms, languages, marriage ceremonies, indigenous knowledge systems of nature and environment, music and dances. The cultural heritage comprise of both tangible and intangible that are enshrined in our lives, inherited, recreated that has evolved over time. Culture is a strong part of people's lives, it influences their views, values, humor, hopes, loyalties. Culture provides a sense of identity, social cohesion, self-esteem and continuity of humanity.
The diverse cultural heritages are interconnected to one another and therefore the boundaries of ethnic cultures are fluid, they are not pure. We celebrate the diverse cultures for promoting unified nation in order to build strong pillars of foundation for our young generation and enhancing relationships with one another in order to have an understanding of their cultures for wealth creation and unity.
Uganda is a signatory to Unesco convention of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage 2003, the convention of cultural diversity and expression 2005 and the convention to protecting and promoting cultural and natural heritage 1972. As such as a nation through the cultural policy 2006 and Museums policy 2015, the republic of Uganda therefore affirms its constitutional obligation of mainstreaming cultural heritage and guarantees its preservation and enhancement for promoting sustainable development. We therefore applaud different communities, cultural institutions and individuals who are playing major role in the proclamation, recreation, safeguarding, maintenance and promotion of cultural heritage, which help to enrich our cultural diversity and human creativity.
This year the Ugandan community will have an opportunity to display the cultures local and international, corporate and informal as well as the historical/traditional cultures under the theme : "Appreciating who we are: Celebrating Cultural Diversity"
Therefore, the purpose of hosting this Uganda International Cultural fair is to establish a platform where the Ugandan Community and the international communities celebrate our culture. This fair will also help to establish relationships with people from different cultural heritages across the globe and support creating an enabling environment in which people can work together to build strong socio economic base of Uganda hence feeding into the vision 2040 of prosperous nation.
This event will run for three (03) days from 29th - 31st July 2016. This event will offer a sandwich of formal sessions and dialogues on culture, social exhibition of culture. The exhibition will include physical display of what different groups identify themselves with ranging from dressing (Fashion), art and craft, music, dance, drama, poetry, diverse cuisine, wine testing, local brew, historical traditional tales and legends, acrobatics, magic shows among other things in their individual exhibition booths. National Kingdoms, cultural clusters and the international community will be invited to showcase their cultures.
Schools are invited to offer an opportunity to the young generation to learn about the different cultures both local and international and be inspired. Schools will also be a major focus for creating a tourism culture amongst the Ugandan community since behavioral change is more effective amongst the very young as compared to adults. There shall be school cultural quiz competetions being sponsored by Uganda Tourism Board(UTB). The best pair of students will be awarded school fees for the next term, the teacher or trainer and the school for the best pair of students will be awarded as well.
The importance of promoting the cultural fair
- It will contribute to building communities that are powerful enough to attain significant change in development. If cultural groups join forces, they will be more effective in reaching common goals, than if each group operates in isolation.
- It will help to diversify our economic base in boosting rural economy where rich cultural products can be packaged and marked in the international trade through cultural tourism experiences
- There is opportunity for young generation to develop innovative skills of modern technology through animation of cultural heritage in the digital revolution which helps in creating jobs in creative arts
- Each cultural group has unique strengths and perspectives that the larger community can benefit from. This will offer a wide range of ideas, customs, and wisdom to solve problems and enrich community life in the future
- Understanding cultures will help to overcome and prevent ethnic differences. The ethnic divisions result in misunderstandings, loss of opportunities, and sometimes violence. Misunderstanding of conflicts drain communities of financial and human resources; they distract cultural groups from resolving the key issues they have in common.
- This function will help to learn about the influences that cultural groups have had on our mainstream history and culture, this will help participants get an accurate view to appreciate different societies, communities and cultural norms.
Uganda Wildlife Authority was on Wednesday April 6th,2016,greatly honoured to host HE President Yoweri Museveni in Semuliki National Park where he went for a nature walk in the forest and also visited the famous Sempaya hot springs . He commended UWA for great work in promoting conservation and tourism
Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda
Tree-climbing lions? Tick! Healthy numbers of hippos and elephants? Tick! Over 600 different bird species? You’ve got it… This is the place to come for guaranteed sightings of a huge range of African wildlife, a real-life geography lesson in the difference between savannah, wetlands and forest and the chance to do all this without having to share it with too many of your fellow humans.You can also take a boat safari on the Kazinga Channel, giving your family a unique perspective on the many mammals, birds and reptiles coming to drink here.
The Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to roughly half the 750 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild. Expect thick jungle, a lot of sweat, and then the miracle of going eye to eye with the very deep gaze of a watchful silverback.
Fifteen giraffes will on June 30 hit the road from Murchison Falls National Park in northern Uganda to Lake Mburo in western Uganda.