The State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Martin Mugarra, has rallied Members of Parliament to push for increased funding for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), with the aim of fighting human-wildlife conflicts in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks.
Minister Mugarra, accompanied by the UWA team, said most parks are experiencing challenges with poaching as well as animals escaping to community land resulting into destruction of life and property.
“The human-wildlife conflict is key. UWA has constructed dams in Lake Mburo National Park to keep animals from going to the communities, but they still stray. We have been praying that the UWA budget ceiling is raised to deal with such challenges,” said Mugarra.
Mugarra was addressing MPs on the Committee of Tourism, Trade and Industry during the oversight visit at Lake Mburo National Park located in Kiruhura District, on Friday, 09 February 2024.
The additional funding, he said would assist in fencing the park, construction of the roads within the parks currently in bad shape and staff houses. He also stressed that accommodation for local tourists is limited, yet their number has surpassed that of foreign tourists.
“We have only 10 accommodation units for local travelers. It is important that we start catering for Ugandan travelers who are now over 60 percent of Lake Mburo visitors. We want that when we have issues like the impact of the gay bill, Ugandans can sustain the tourism sector,” he said.
He argued that Lake Mburo once sufficiently funded to improve on infrastructure is able to considerably boost its annual revenue presently at Shs3.2 billion.
“We will be bringing this suggestion to the finance minister to raise the UWA ceiling because we can collect that money, if you give us the money the results will come,” he said.
Legislators advised UWA to increase its engagements with the community on measures to end poaching, as they wait on the desired increased funding.
“Try your best to sensitise your communities in activities such as poaching, as you plan on fencing the park. With fencing, you can add animals such as lions which many tourists love to see,” said Hon. Andrew Koluo (Indep., Toroma County).
At the Queen Elizabeth National Park, MPs learnt of the plan to domesticate wild but edible rats called cane rats which are among the most poached mammals.
MPs commended this innovative way of mitigating poaching, with Hon. Charles Okello (DP, Nwoya East County) attesting that the same species are among the delicacies in Northern Uganda.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.