The system came into effect on August 29th, 2013 having been piloted in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park with Points of Issue-Points of Sale at the UWA headquarters and the park offices.
The new system which has been widely embraced by the visitors, tour operators and staff received a great boost when it was launched by the US ambassador to Uganda Mr. Scott De Lisi during the celebrations to mark 50 years of Kidepo at Kampala Serena Hotel on 22nd August, 2013.
During the launch of wildlife card, Mr. DeLisi has this to say “I am delighted that the U.S. Government, has supported the Uganda Wildlife Authority to encourage the tourism sector of the economy through the introduction of the Wildlife Card which is the key component in a Cashless Revenue Collection System. The Wildlife Card is an innovative initiative that took some hard work on the part of UWA to make a reality.
I know, however, that it will absolutely be worth the effort. We know that this system will improve UWA’s revenue management capability and ultimately increase the availability of funds to support biodiversity conservation in Uganda. This new system will save time, inhibit corruption and even protect lives.
Visitors to Uganda's parks will now be able to make payments centrally, through a carefully monitored and controlled system. Their payments will be credited to the new Wildlife Card which they can then used as a cash debit card to pay park fees and related expenses for special park services or guide support.
Reducing the amount of cash in the field will, of course, help protect what it perhaps the most precious resource people. Having large amounts of cash on hand represents a serious danger to UWA staff a threat that the Cashless System can help to reduce. In 2012 and 2013, UWA rangers were tragically robbed and killed in Queen Elizabeth National Park and the adjacent Ishasha Reserve. Other robberies were reported in Murchison Falls National Park.
Without cash payments in the tills, there will be no incentive for theft. Instead of being a target for robbers, revenues will be available to go back into the parks for conservation, maintenance and improvements. More importantly, if rangers are at reduced risk, so are the tourists who visit the park. The stories that matter will be about who had the best wildlife experience and not who had the most harrowing challenges accessing the parks and the game in the first place.
I am excited that the cashless system will soon be piloted in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, Kibale, and Murchison Falls National Parks. I have visited every one of these parks and they are among my favorite places in Uganda and hope that the cashless system will make them even more accessible to tourists and facilitate their engagement here.”