Members of 9th Board of Trustee (BoT) Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) were inaugurated by Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) Hon. Tom Butime at a colourful ceremony held in Sheraton hotel Kampala on 3rd, July 2020. The new board will be chaired by Prof. Panta Kasoma succeeding Benjamin Otto. It is comprised of Dr. Anna Rose Ademun Okurut, Peter Ojede Francis, Harriet Nandutu, Kagumaho Kakuyo, Annet Ireeba Kobusinge, Jane Bagonza, Eng Ivan Batuma Mbabazi, Dr. Akankwasa Barirega Yahya and Dr. Panta Leon Mukasa Banda Kasoma.
While presiding over the function, Rtd. Col. Butime thanked members of the 8th BoT for the solid legacy left in the organisation after successfully steering UWA well. “These days, people take pride in being associated with UWA. These are results of good leadership. I want to thank Ben Otto because your board has set the bar high for the 9th board,” he noted. The minister noted that wildlife tourism has contributed to a tune of 7% to the GDP and still contributes 8% to the labour industry in the country.
Rtd. Col. Butime noted that lot of progress had been made in protection of wildlife an example being the surging wildlife population numbers. “Such valuable gains in the industry must not be lost to COVID-19,” he said. “The new board has an array of professionals and is equal to the task. It is a team that is ready to deliver,” he said. He tasked the new board to tackle the current conservation challenges that include encroachment, wildlife poaching, human wildlife conflict and the invasive species brought by climate change.
The inauguration was attended by State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Hon. Kiwanda Godfrey Suubi, conservation partners and UWA’s top management. Hon. Kiwanda thanked the members of the outgone board for the team work and great guidance given to the institution.
In her remarks, Permanent Secretary MTWA Ms. Doreen Katusiime emphasized the importance of Board of Trustee in the agency observing that it determined a lot on the institution’s success or failure. She thanked the outgoing members for the commendable successes scored in their term of office and welcomed the new ones to conservation work.
The Chairman of the 8th BoT Benjamin Otto expressed gratitude and appreciation to Hon. Butime and his predecessor for the great leadership, advice and encouragement that enabled his team to perform with courage and satisfaction. In a special way, he thanked UWA staff for devotion and commitment to conservation to the extent that some have lost life in due course of duty.
On achievements, Otto highlighted some key accomplishments in his board’s four-year tenure. Key among them was improved wildlife protection that has seen surging population numbers in all national parks. He observed that “staff morale was high because they have been trained and equipped with better skills to do their work. The institution has new specialised units like the canine on board that have considerably reduced illegal trade in wildlife and remarkedly curtailed poaching.” He also reported a reduction of Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) because of the multifaced approach undertaken to deal with the challenge. “Currently electric fencing of some parts of Queen Elizabeth and Murchison are being piloted which will go a long way to reduce wildlife raiding people’s crops and gardens,” he said. Other key milestones undertaken include reduction of invasive species in the protected areas, increase in revenue shared with communities and raising revenue collection to a tune of UGX 59 billion before the COVID- 19 pandemic disruption of the economy. This, he said was attributed to the teamwork among the BoT members and its stakeholders with support from partners.
The new BoT chairman Dr. Panta Kasoma on his part thanked his predecessor for steering UWA as a reputable organisation and building team work among the members. “The challenges for wildlife conservation today are enormous a case being the growing population around all protected areas. I call upon Ugandans to a strive for a harmonious co-existence between communities and wildlife because it is the only way that guarantees sustainable habitat protection. It is not by accident that Uganda is gifted by nature,” he observed. He pledged to work tirelessly with members of his BoT to fulfil the mandate handed over to them and register good gains. “We cannot afford the lawlessness of 1970s that saw loss of wildlife to near extinction,” he said. I call on Ugandans to visit national parks and attest to the beautiful sceneries of the country,” he said.