The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has partnered with local lodges, operators (Friends of Queen Elizabeth National Park) and the USAID-STAR program to promote an innovative new traveler experience, The Hippo Census, which took place in February and March. The idea originated with QENP park wardens who suggested a program where visitors can be involved in real conservation efforts by helping count hippo populations alongside the rangers and research/monitoring wardens. 28 seats were available and all the fees collected directly supported the hippo census activity.
In other places this activity is called “citizen science”, but in QENP they refer to it as “experiential tourism”. These activities give visitors a behind the scenes look at how research is helping conserve biodiversity and monitor ecosystem health in QENP.
Video is courtesy of Jennier Krauser, a destination development and community tourism specialist working with the USAID-STAR program in Uganda.
The UWA asked USAID-STAR to help their team develop a product around the Hippo Census and a marketing strategy that UWA could use as a guide for this and future Hippo Census’, as well as other experiential tourism activities like lion and mongoose tracking. UWA and USAID-STAR also developed a short film that generated further interest about the activity.
Uganda, the Pearl of Africa is rich in all the African species you have ever dreamed and of many you have never heard of. This East African nation is home to the highest concentrations of primates and birds in the continent with safaris and other nature experiences that will live in your memories for life.
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A new Board of Trustees for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) comprising nine eminent Ugandans with proven managerial and professional background, has been inaugurated by the minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu.
The new board to serve for the next three years is headed by Mr. Benjamin Otto, a former permanent secretary in the ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry. The other members include Dr. Gladys Kalema Zikusooka, the chief executive officer of Conservation Through Public Health and former veterinary officer at UWA, Mr. Mani Khan the director of operations at MARASDA Group of companies which manages a chain of lodges in various national parks and Captain John Emily Otekat a former deputy director of operations at UWA and an honorary Wildlife officer .
Others are Mr. Boniface Byamukama, the chairman of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) and executive director of Lake Kitandara Tour and Travel company, Mrs Grace Aulo Mbabazi, the commissioner for Tourism in the ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage,Hon. Janat Akorimoe Akech a former member of Parliament who will represent the communities neighboring protected areas.
Mr. Michael Aliyo, a senior economist in the ministry of Finance is the new representative of the ministry of on the board while Dr. Andrew Ggunga Seguya who is the acting Executive Director UWA, will by the virtue of his position sever as the board secretary.
He stressed that Wildlife is a major component of the sprawling Tourism industry and charged the new board to promote the sector for the general good. He cautioned the new members to distinguish between the areas of management that generate conflict. He said the technical operations of the organisation are vested in UWA as a designated implementation agency while the board is to provide guidance.
The minister challenged the new board to restore confidence in the organisation among the staff and partners which had been eroded by various previous inquiries, urgently address the challenge of human resource gaps by filling vacant posts and regularizing several in acting positions as well as considering a proposal to improve staff remuneration in line with the rising cost of living.
He also implored the new board to address the issue of finance integrity of UWA and the Human-Wildlife conflict.
In his acceptance speech, the chairman of the new board Mr. Otto assured the minister of the total commitment to serve the authority to the best of the members’ abilities. He pledged that the board will operate effectively and efficiently.”The board comprises of people who are tried and tested with long experience who need no long period of induction before serious work. We shall hit the ground on day one and our operations will be guided by the UWA act and relevant laws which I will strictly follow as a civil servant” said Mr. Otto.
The acting Executive Director UWA, Dr. Andrew Seguya praised the staff for having kept the fire burning during the board absence adding that the authority had registered a positive revenue growth trends.
The Batwa’s hunter-gatherer lifestyle means they have always been dependent on Semuliki forest for food, shelter, medicine and tools, though this is beginning to change as a result of interaction with other local communities.
Hike through the monkey-filled forest to these boiling, gushing springs, and cook your eggs and plantain in the bubbling waters!
Three tracks cross the savannah grassland of Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve.
The 13km KirumiaTrail runs through the heart of the forest to the Semuliki River. This 8 hour round trip starts at 8am and is perfect for birders.
Birders who make it to Semuliki will be rewarded with some of Africa’s best forest birding.
The Kyambura Gorge experience is more than discovering chimpanzees in their natural environment: it teaches visitors about the ecosystems of Kyambura Gorge’s atmospheric “underground” rainforest, including vegetation types; bird identification and behavior; and chimp and monkey ecology.
Energetic dancers from Mubako perform around lodge campfires, making for a magical African experience at dusk. Boomu Women's Group offers accommodation, a craft shop and village tours, revealing the realities of life in this rural community.