State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Hon. Mugarra Martin Bahenduka today visited Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters in Kamwokya for a familiarization tour of the institution and met the top management and Board of Trustees of the institution.
On his arrival, he was received by the Executive Director Sam Mwandha and Chairman Board of Trustees Dr. Panta Kasoma. He inspected a guard was mounted in his honour and was taken on a guided tour of the Headquarters and later met members of the Board of Trustees and UWA’s Top Management at Hilton hotel.
The Board Chairman Dr. Panta Kasoma welcomed the Minister and thanked him for making time to visit the institution to familiarise himself with its mandate. He noted that he joins the institution at unprecedented times when UWA was wrestling with numerous COVID 19 effects that have left the institution’s finances and sources of revenue heavily slumped. “We have financial and budgetary resource allocation challenges. The board has been adopting to the current situation with varying plans to cope with the covid 19 pandemic effects on the institution,” he said. He also noted that as much as the country heavily depends on nature for sustaining the economy, there is a siege on nature by the population which is heavily depleting it as well as polluting it.
The Executive Director UWA made a presentation on the institutional overview to the Minister explaining the mandate and conservation milestones of the institution. He highlighted the organization’s management structure, key strategic pillars and management challenges. The strategic pillars mentioned included Ecosystem Management and Wildlife Resource Protection, Community Conservation, Research and Ecological Monitoring, Capacity Building, Tourism and Business Management and Governance. He discussed the numerous challenges the organisation faces in fulfilment of its mandate and the successes registered over time.
In his remarks, the Minister thanked the staff, management and members of the
Board for the tremendous work to ensure the institution functions properly even during the unprecedent times of COVID 19.
He was happy to join the sector since he comes from an area surrounded with protected areas. He said he was cognizant of the challenges since the area he hails from has a fair share of wildlife challenges. He noted that wildlife conservation needs to harness the core component of interacting with communities more to explain the need to have a peaceful co-existence between communities and wildlife. He said the issue of Human Wildlife Conflict has been prevalent in many areas and it continues to be a thorn in conservation of wildlife. He said that as much as more still needs to be done to address the challenge, he commends management for doing a lot to mitigate its effects.
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With effect from 31st, August 2021, guests wishing to engage in activities at Uganda Wildlife Authority’s national parks will use the cashless method to pay to access its activities. The cashless mode of payment has been rolled out to enter and access services and products in the national parks. This has been implemented to ease transactions with four payment options now fully available. These options include Payment through the payment portal on the website, Direct Bank Transaction, Payment through Points of Sale Machines situated at selected gates and Mobile Money. This measure is hoped to increase efficiency and also protect our clients and staff from the dangers of carrying cash to spend on activities within the protected areas. The four payment options were fully accessible as of 1st July as detailed below;
ONLINE PAYMENT SYSTEM
The online payment system can be accessed through Uganda Wildlife Authority website https://www.ugandawildlife.org/.The payment system online can accept payment cards in Uganda Shillings (UGX) and US Dollars (USD). Once the payment is completed, a receipt will be auto generated from the portal and sent to the client’s email detailing the activity and park of choice. Clients will use the auto generated receipt at the gate to get the official receipt from the park accounts system.
A client can make payments through Direct Bank Deposits in the following banks;
UGX – A/C Name: Uganda Wildlife Authority A/C No. 6006760021
USD – A/C Name: Uganda Wildlife Authority A/C No. 344020914
UGX – A/C Name: UWA Collections A/C No. 9030006237338
USD – A/C Name: Uganda Wildlife Authority A/C No. 9030008172993
UGX – A/C Name: UWA collections A/C No. 3110400021
UGX – A/C Name: Uganda Wildlife Authority A/C No. 100160021
USD - A/C Name: Uganda Wildlife Authority A/C No. 100160064
Clients are advised to make bank payments based on the most current UWA tariff for all activities they wish to undertake and present the bank payslips at the gates for receipting.
POINTS OF SALE (POS) MACHINES
The points of Sale Machines are positioned at particular gates that have access to internet and power. From the POS machines at these gates, payments can be done through direct payment from cards. The gates below in the respective Conservation Areas will only have cashless transactions through the POS machines or any of the payment methods as noted. In these gates, payments can be done through direct dedication from the cards.
The gates noted below will only have cashless transactions from any of the payment methods as rolled out;
Kabatoro, Kasenyi, Mweya information centre, Katunguru, Ishasha
Kisoro office, Muhabura, Ntebeko,
Buhoma, Nkuringo, Ruhija
Bugungu, Chobe, Kichumbanyobo, Mubaku, Northern Bank, Tangi, Wangkwar
Mt. Elgon head office, Budadiri
Kibale information office, Fort portal office, Isunga
Nshara, Kinyashara, Sanga, Lakeside
Apoka, Nataba, Kalukudo, Lokumoit
On the POS machine, there is an option to transact by use of mobile money on the client’s phone. This service is only available on the ABSA POS machines and will attract a charge of 0.75% of the transaction value and the payment will be effected off the POS machine.
The Mobile money can also be used as an option to pay for UWA services. The transactions of mobile money will be for only selected activities and this will be by use of USSD codes.
We look forward to serving you better as you explore the great nature and beautiful sceneries in the Protected Areas across Uganda. Remember to observe the approved COVID-19 standard operating procedures which are also accessible on our website.
The court in Fort portal presided over by the Chief Magistrate His Worship Kule Moses Lubangula has sentenced Denis Livingstone, 32 years and Mwesige Joshua, 25 years to nine years in jail for illegal entry into a protected area and killing a protected wildlife species.
Livingstone and Mwesige are residents of Kabende village, Kijura town council in Kabarole district were arrested by UWA rangers on August 3, 2021 in the area of Kandita in Toro Semliki Wildlife Research. They were found in possession of a dead Uganda Kob, a machete and two spears.
The two were arraigned before the Chief Magistrate’s court on August 5, 2021, where they pleaded guilty to illegal entry into a protected area, killing a Uganda kob, as well as unlawful possession of dangerous weapons capable of killing and injuring protected wildlife species.
The UWA prosecution team led by Shisha Alex told court that much as the accused persons did not have any previous criminal wildlife record, poaching affects negatively the tourism industry and because of vice, wildlife resources are fast being depleted especially during this critical time of the corona virus pandemic. He prayed that court gives a deterrent sentence to a send a strong signal to any would be offender in order to save the country’s wildlife from depletion.
In his judgement, the Chief Magistrate reasoned that because of the beautiful sceneries and amazing wildlife in the region, communities have greatly benefitted from tourism. He noted that Fort portal town was partly upgraded to a tourism city status because of the economic benefits associated with tourism and therefore needed to be protected by the community. He therefore sentenced the offenders to pay 13 million shillings each or in default to serve 9 years in prison.
The UWA ED Sam Mwandha welcomed the sentence saying it is a clear manifestation that whoever does not adhere to protection of wildlife and goes venturing in protected areas will be dealt with by the long arm of the law. “The public should join in conservation of wildlife because its benefits when protected outweigh the personal short-term gains. When killing a kob, think about employment of community members, revenue to improve infrastructure, increase in human wildlife conflict because more lions will now have to venture outside to look for food,” he stated.
Mr. Mwandha encouraged all Ugandans to see wildlife as their own not only a mandate for UWA.
Conservationists are chest thumping as they join Uganda Wildlife Authority in celebrating more animal births. Following last year’s baby boom of mountain Gorillas, this year has also witnessed births of iconic species in Uganda.
Bitukura Gorilla group in Ruhija registered a delightful birth of yet another addition to the gorilla numbers on 28th July, 2021. The number of family members now goes up to 13. Adult Female Kanoel was sighted just after birth cuddling and grooming the new born in a very protective way from the prying eyes of the monitoring team of rangers. Throughout the monitoring, the mother gorilla dedicated her time to breast feeding and grooming the infant. Having opened for tourism in 2008 with only 8 members, Bitukura group has grown in gorilla numbers over the years, a manifestation of Uganda’s concerted and consistent efforts to conserve the mountain gorillas in the country.
The results of the mountain gorilla census released in 2020 indicated that the population of mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park had increased to 459 individuals from 400 in the census of 2014.
The gorilla birth followed the great news of added number of rhinos thanks to a new member in Nakasongola District. The male calf born at Ziwa Rhino sanctuary is the latest member to be added to the delicate specie. The calf was given birth to by Kori one of the oldest female Rhinos. Uganda Wildlife Authority recently took over management of the sanctuary to protect and manage the rhinos from Rhino fund Uganda.
The Executive Director Sam Mwandha was delighted to hear the news especially after the loss of Nandi to natural causes recently. He saluted UWA staff for doing a tremendous job so far to tirelessly protect the rhinos with dedication and zeal. “I want to extend my sincere gratitude to our team in Ziwa doing a great job to protect these rhinos. Am sure with such commitment, the number will only continue to soar,” he said.
The birth now brings the number of rhinos at the sanctuary to 33 in total. Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary located 176km (100 miles) north of Kampala on the Gulu highway towards Murchison Falls (branch off at Nakitoma Trading centre). It is the only place where one sees rhinos in the wild in the country.
The increase in the rhino population is testament to Government strategy of maintaining the current excellent rate of rhino safety, breeding model, and the status of the sanctuary as a centre of excellence.
The State Minister for Tourism, Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka on Tuesday 27th July, 2021 visited Murchison Falls Conservation Area to assess the Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) issues in Kiryandongo district. The visit was intended to assess the magnitude of HWC issues and interface with communities in a bid to find lasting solutions together with communities.
To receive the Minister to the Conservation Area was Deputy Director Field Operations Mr. Charles Tumwesigye, Chief Warden MFCA Mr. Edison Nuwamanya flanked by area Members of Parliament for Kibanda South, Hon. Lenos Ngopek, Kibanda North, Hon. Karubanga Jacob, Hon. Kahunde Hellen Max, Woman MP Kiryandongo District, Chairperson LC V, Hon. Edith Aliguma, RDC Kiryandongo, Mr. Debelle Peter and some members of the district Executive Committee.
The team visited 03 sub counties of Kicwabugingo, Nyankende and Nyamahasa in Kiryandongo and held 03 meetings in Kiogoma, Kibimbya and Kibyama that attracted several communities affected by Problem animals. Hon. Mugarra in his remarks to communities was cognizant of the enormous challenges that Human Wildlife Conflict issues had on conservation of wildlife and pledged to work with communities and areas leaders to resolve to mitigate the challenge. He promised to ensure support to the injured persons as a result of wildlife attacks especially the family of late Akwong Esther. The minister proposed further implementation of electric fence among other interventions as more feasible methods to manage the conflict of people and wildlife.
The Deputy Director Field Operations Mr. Tumwesigye informed the team that elephants, vervet monkeys, wild pigs and olive baboons were the main crop raiders. He explained that despite the challenge, Uganda Wildlife Authority had taken up multiple interventions to mitigate HWC issues. These include trench digging, planting of unpalatable crops like chili, sun flower, simsim on the boundaries of national parks to discourage wildlife from being attracted to community habitats. He said construction of an electric fence is being piloted around Karuma, while interventions such as use of bee hive fence for huge mammals like elephants and trenches are already being undertaken.
Mr. Tumwesigye further said that UWA trains and equips wildlife scouts in managing problem animals adding that in some unique cases when elephants get rowdy and aggressive, scare shooting is done by the rangers to drive the animals back to the park. “UWA also under takes training and equipping of wildlife scouts to help guard communities in event that the wildlife comes out of the park,” he noted. He requested communities experiencing HWC and require compensation to be patient with UWA as the regulations once finalised will operationalise the compensation clause of the Wildlife Act 2019.
The Chairperson LC V Kiryandongo Edith Aliguma Adyeri informed the team that HWC were more pronounced in her district and as such, she has prioritised to support digging trenches as a way of mitigating the issue together with other measures such as bee keeping for both livelihood improvement and protection of crops. “Elephants have become rampant and communities are spending sleepless nights with children not attending school. Therefore, revenue sharing is being used for trench excavation. Wildlife scouts have volunteered but need to be taken up by UWA and paid,” she stated.
Uganda wildlife Authority joined the rest of the globe to celebrate World ranger day held annually on 31st July every year. This day is devoted to recognising the efforts of rangers globally that ensure conservation of wildlife thrives. It is a day to pay gratitude to the rangers for their sacrifice as nature’s most devote custodian and first line of defence.
Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority Sam Mwandha in his message to mark the day detailed the important work rangers do in protection of national parks and wildlife reserves. He noted that rangers were at the fore front of fighting poachers as well as tend to visitors that come to enjoy nature in the wild. “The rangers collaborate with all our stakeholders especially communities that neighbour the parks and deal with issues of human wildlife conflict since wildlife often gets out of the parks. These are challenging experiences especially when communities lose their loved ones as a result of wildlife on community land,” he noted. Rangers go through lots of hardships like dying in line of duty on the hands of armed poachers. “They also work in remote and hard to reach areas making it hard to access social amnesties like hospitals, schools and yet they earn low salaries,” he explained.
To celebrate the day, conservation areas organised social responsibility community-based activities on a low scale observing the set Standard Operating Procedures given the current pandemic of corona virus. Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area (BMCA) arranged a cleaning drive in Buhoma, Kisoro and Nkuringo as well as a blood donation drive in Bwindi Community Hospital. The clean-up exercise encompassed getting plastics out of the drainage channels and sensitisation of communities on responsible disposal of waste.
In Buhoma park headquarters, celebrations begun from the Visitor Information Centre with a parade headed by Assistant Warden Law enforcement Turyatemba Movadi presided over by Chief Warden Nelson Guma. To take stoke of the sacrifices undertaken by rangers, a profile of one of the long serving rangers Cpl. Ignatius Tumwesigye aged, 51 was read out to the participants by Sgt Okoth Yona. Ignatius Tumwesigye joined conservation work in 1989 at the age of 19 was appreciated for serving with professionalism, dedication and commitment to conservation. He is appreciated.
Chief Warden Guma Nelson highlighted the challenges faced by rangers in the course of their service such as hostility of wildlife they protect, armed poachers, harsh environment, difficult terrain, inadequate accommodation among many challenges. He said despite that, they still work diligently to fulfil their conservation mandate.
Dr. Gladys Kalema of Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) donated 20 GPS devices on behalf of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Tusk Trust to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mayor Buhoma Town council Moses Bashaija flagged off the general cleaning exercise that started from Nkwenda through to Buhoma and Kacwampare. The day ended with a blood donation drive at Bwindi Community hospital.