A study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) using Game spy digital cameras around the Ayago water falls area on the Victoria Nile has shown big populations of wildlife in the southern sector of the Murchison Falls National Park than previously believed.
This was revealed by Wildlife researcher for JICA study team, Mr. Tomo Akiyama, on Friday November 22nd,2013 while handing over 65 game spy digital cameras to UWA to assist in research and monitoring of the wildlife in protected areas. Flanked by the team leader Mr. Masaaki Nagai and Mr. Daniel Rutabingwa of JICA, the researcher said there are good populations of lions, leopards, giraffes,and chimpanzees at the edge of the water falls.
Most of the game drives in the park are done on the northern bank The one and a half study was aimed at assessing the possible impact the hydro power project at Ayago would have on wildlife. The team leader said the surveillance cameras also captured poachers and other illegal park entrants and thus can be good tools for monitoring other illegal activities against wildlife.
The JICA team thanked UWA for the cooperation during the study and promised to offer continued technical assistance whenever required. According to JICA, the cameras gave them an idea on what animals had an impact on the AYAGO project, though it’s very unfortunate that the project was terminated due to political reasons. However they were grateful to UWA for their collaboration and promise to render their collaboration anytime UWA needs it. He further added that the project started with 160 cameras which they used for their survey, research and monitoring of Murchison falls national park but unfortunately lost most of them to poachers, elephants and fires zeroing down to 65 cameras.
Though their study ended midway because of political programmes, they had taken 10,000 photos in a period of one year which they hope UWA will use for the major management of the national park.
Mr. John Makombo who represented the ED, thanked JICA and Uganda Ministry of Energy for the timely donation and promised to put the equipment to good use. He said the cameras will be deployed to monitor bio-diversity and wildlife management and that staff will be trained in the use of cameras and the data. He added that cameras will be handy in the investigation since they can be in position to trace the animals and poachers from the scene to the villages, as well as capture a lot of information and data that will help to enhance the management of the parks.
He also asked for their collaboration especially in the training of the staff on how to use the cameras and how to download the photos from them. The handover ceremony at UWA headquarters was witnessed by the Deputy Director for Legal and Corporate affairs Mr. Chemonges Sabilla, Deputy Director Human Resource Ms Jackie Bakobaki and the Senior Planning coordinator Mr. Edgar Buhanga flanked by Ms Justine Namara, a senior warden Environment Impact Assessment. End
The heads of the institutions participating in the 11th edition of Interforces Games championship and tournament ,2013, have today officially launched the programme for the event which kicks off with range fire at Kigo Prison grounds on Monday November 18.
In an effort to involve communities in solving human-wildlife conflict (HWC) around Murchison Falls Protected Area (MFPA), the USAID/Uganda Tourism for Biodiversity Program, implemented by African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), has invested US$11,000 in partnership with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to develop a Community Wildlife Scouts program, including providing equipment worth over $2,800. The equipment, which includes garden gloves, buckets, nose-masks, vuvuzella, bells, whistles, hoes, pick axes, spades, gumboots, raincoats, torches, and water bottles, was handed over to 122 wildlife scouts, most of whom are youth, who underwent a two day training in problem animal management with an emphasis on elephants. The handover ceremony took place in Ayago – Koch Goma Sub-county, at the boundary of Murchison Falls National Park and was presided over by Mr. Kaddu Sebunya, Director AWF Uganda Program, and Mr. Tom Okello, Conservation Area Manager of Murchison Falls National Park.
While addressing the scouts, Mr. Okello thanked community members for their role in wildlife conservation and singled out George Okeny, the scouts' leader, who gave UWA a portion of his land in 2008 to construct a ranger post to address wildlife raids, which were frequent in Ayago. He also applauded AWF's partnership, especially in training and equipping the scouts. Mr. Sebunya emphasized that AWF's support to the community was due to their commendable conservation work with UWA. He said that AWF and UWA are modeling such efforts to be replicated all over the country. The scouts expressed their appreciation for the support and stressed the need to address transport challenges and start income generating projects for the group. The group has already dug a 32-kilometer long elephant trench to prevent elephant raids.
The Community Wildlife Scouts (CWS) program was started by UWA as part of their strategy to expand various human wildlife conflict mitigations. Community representatives and volunteer youths/scouts were mobilized to chase away invading elephants from community gardens through simple, inexpensive methods including increased vigilance, beating tins and drums, blowing whistles and vuvuzela, application of pepper, setting fires, and applying other traditional methods in an organized manner. These methods have helped in controlling crop raids in the areas where they are implemented.
The community carries scars of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) conflict, which were still evident in Ayago Sub-county after peace returned to the area. When the community returned to their homes after the conflict ended, they found that the warlords had extensively poached wildlife in the park. For example, in the Ayago River, only two hippos remained; but with community's protection, the population has grown to over 23 hippos. The scouts have also helped UWA to reduce the need for ranger presence and patrol. In 2008, UWA stationed 14 rangers in the area; but with less acute human wildlife conflict, this has been reduced to three rangers, which saves the UWA approximately 15 million Ugandan shillings annually on operational costs, food rations, transport, patrol and supervision.
Crop raiding by elephants is currently the major cause of human-wildlife conflict due to increasing human population and the growing numbers of settlements close to protected areas that were "off limits" during the LRA insurgency. With the current rate of settlement and the growing demand for access to land, it is clear that while human wildlife conflicts around the Murchison Falls Protected Area are still growing, involving communities through programs such as this will go a long way in providing a sustainable solution. The equipment that the Tourism for Biodiversity project provided will undoubtedly increase the scouts' motivation and help them to achieve their goal of reducing human-wildlife conflict in the Ayago – Koch Goma Sub-county area.
Left: Scouts demonstrate how they apply pepper mixture at the park boundary to scare away elephants from raiding community crops. Middle: Scouts show how elephant deterrents are applied.
Right: George Okeny, the scouts' leader, addressing UWA and AWF officials.
Uganda’s Prime minister and head of government business Mr. Amama Mbabazi on November 9th 2013 led a high powered delegation of eminent citizens to visit Ishasha sector of Queen Elizabeth National Park where he sighted the much sought after tree climbing lions.
With the help of researchers who tracked and established the exact location of a seven member pride in the heart of the expansive savannah plains marked with fig trees, the prime minister and officials from the ministry of Tourism as well as district leaders marveled at the unique lions as they moved up and down the gentle sloping tree trunks with ease.
The prime minister remarked that this region which also boasts of the rare mountain gorillas in Bwindi, spectacular scenery and a diversity of mammals and birds was second to none in the world and ought to be marketed more aggressively both locally and internally.
He was received at the Ishasha-Katooke gate by the director of Tourism in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) Ms Grace Mbabazi Aulo who represented the minister, Mr. Stephen Masaba who represented the UWA Executive Director and the in charge of Ishasha sector Mr. Echodu Edyawu among others.
Mr. Mbabazi later visited the sacred Banyabutumbi near Kihiihi town which is believed to be 450 years old and proceeded to open the offices of the Kinkiizi Tourism club.
He later officially launched the Kinkiizi Tourism Club by unveiling their strategic plan and the map .He also presided over the giving of awards to the tourism and conservation icons in the region including Mzee Gongo renowned for his role in gorilla habituation and conservation as well as Mr. Protazio Mukunyu who worked in conservation sector for 40 years. The club also rewarded President Yoweri Museveni in absentia with the Butumbi award for his love for cultural tourism, Amama Mbabazi for his passion for gorilla tourism and the Savannah hotel for its gorilla promotional efforts.
In his remarks during the launch of the tourism club a youth initiative led by one Mr. Abdu Muhiire, the prime minister and member of Parliament for Kinkiizi west constituency, Mr. Mbabazi urged the guests and the residents to discard the mentality that tourism is meant for foreigners which has to failure to realize the country’s full potential.
He urged everybody to begin appreciating and participating in all tourism activities in the all the regions of the country. He commended the Kinkiizi Tourism Club for the initiative to diversify the tourism products besides gorilla tracking and lion sighting which will improve visitor satisfaction.
The minister of Tourism Dr. Maria Mutagamba in her speech read by Ms Grace Aulo, commended the members of the founders of club for their efforts and called upon the rest of the youth in Kinkiizi to come up with support like provision of guiding services, catering services, home-stays, making and selling of handcrafts, establishing restaurants, establishing camping sites and functional hire services that will enable them to create employment thereby empowering the communities to contribute to economic transformation of our country as well as develop tourism in the region.
Mr. Masaba from Uganda Wildlife Authority outlined the attractions in the region and the challenges faced by the park management including poaching, encroachment and poisoning of the lions. He assured the prime minister and the guests that with the strengthened UWA ranger force, deployment of tourism police, partnership with UPDF and strict border controls, the security of our visitors, staff and investors and tourism infrastructure is assured.
Ministers responsible for Tourism from the East African Community (EAC) Partner States and the EAC Secretariat on Wednesday hosted an EAC Joint Event to promote the region as a Single Tourist Destination at the World Travel Market (WTM) 2013 in London.
Addressing guests at the event, Mrs . Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of the EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management, emphasized that the East African region was a secure and safe destination of wonders and opportunities. She highlighted that this year at WTM, the EAC is focusing on three main aspects: regional achievements to date and where the region is going; safety and security; and lastly, a new innovative way to promote the region as a single tourist destination.
The EAC Partner States have embarked on the process of a Common Market Protocol facilitating free movement of people, skills, goods and services; a great milestone that will see the enhancement of trade and movement of goods as well as services. In addition, an achievement favored in the hospitality and travel industry, is the removal of non-tariff barriers and the enhancement of a free trade area as well as the anticipated introduction of a single currency under an EAC Monetary Union.
“The tourism sector has also started harmonizing hospitality services policies and laws in the region in preparation for full cooperation and to sustainably utilize our resources as a region,” she noted, adding that harmonization of hospitality services includes a focus on quality and not quantity. The Minister urged that sustaining the natural resources the region has been endowed with requires undertaking measures that will ensure the conservation and sustainable utilization of wildlife and other tourist sites in the region.
With regard to safety and security in the region and taking note of the recent terrorist attacks in parts of the region, the Ministers responsible for Tourism from the EAC Partner States pronounced the urgent need for their respective Partner States to fully address the negative image portrayed and subsequent negative travel advisories issued.
The Ministers pledged to employ a positive outlook on the regional approach taken to combat security challenges about the East African tourism destinations, encouraging Tourism Trade Associations to ensure continuous dialogue with all Commonwealth member countries and to advise Commonwealth member countries to notify the EAC Secretariat before publishing any travel warnings.
Promotion of the EAC as a Single Tourist Destination is an ongoing task and innovative strategies are sought to achieve this objective. The Ministers this year, introduced a new product that will be a powerful platform to collate and communicate credible regional information to the Tourism/travel sector; “The Traveler’s Roundabout East Africa”.
The publication has been circulated to the EAC zone, Embassies, High Commissions, other Missions Abroad, key stakeholders and will be distributed to regional airlines, especially those that endeavor to promote the EAC as a Single Tourist Destination. It will also be available on the EAC website, providing pertinent and strategic information on the various investment opportunities in the region.
In a bid to promote the region as a Single Tourist Destination, the EAC WTM Joint Event was preceded by a meeting of the High Commissions of Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania and the Embassy of Burundi in London on 1 November; an exclusive interview of the Ministers responsible for Tourism in the EAC Partner States on BBC-London was featured on Focus on Africa on 5 November at 17.30 GMT (20.30 East African Time); as well as interviews conducted for BBC Swahili and English services respectively.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was the chief viewer of the hybrid eclipse episode which gathered thousands of Ugandans and international enthusiasts to Owiny Primary school in Nebbi district north western Uganda.Here below we reproduce his speech as he appeals to all Ugandans to embrace tourism as an engine of socio-economic transformation.
I warmly welcome you to Pakwach and to Uganda on this rare occasion of viewing the hybrid solar eclipse. The last eclipse of this kind in Uganda was witnessed in 1466 and the next one is forecast for 2117. So all of us are privileged to be viewing today’s eclipse.
As you will have observed on your way here, Uganda is endowed with a variety of tourism resources including stunning landscapes, beauty water bodies, unique cultures, a variety of flora and fauna and is the source of the second longest river – the Nile. Since the 2007 Common Wealth Heads of Government Meeting.
About 26.4% of the country’s total area is under protected areas such as national parks, species management areas, game reserves, wilderness areas, marine reserves and Ramsar sites. Uganda is strengthening efforts to conserve its rich biodiversity. Resulting from this, wildlife populations in all protected areas have rebounded from the dismal figures of the 1970’s and 80’s when the country was ravaged by war and political instability. Creation of the Tourism Police, increase in game rangers and strict border control have significantly reduced poaching and illegal trade in animals and their parts, all of which have also contributed to the steady increase in wildlife populations in the country.
Further evidence of Uganda’s remarkable tourism potential is the various accolades received in the past few years. Lonely Planet, an independent tourists’ trusted information source, named Uganda its top destination for 2011/12. In addition, Uganda also received accolades from six trusted publications including: Virungas: One of 20 Must‐See Places for 2012 by National Geographic Travel Magazine, Bwindi: Best African Birding Destination (2011) by Travel Africa Magazine and Rwenzori Mountains: One of World’s 15 Best Hikes by National Geographic in 2012.
Uganda is regaining her position as a top African destination as it was in the 1960’s. From 100,000 visitors in 1993, Uganda received 1,151,000 visitor arrivals in the year 2011 representing an increase of 34% from 2010, an indication of a growing tourism market. The industry’s total contribution to GDP amounts to over 1.5 billion dollars, representing 9% of national GDP. The sector is also one of the major employers in the country, with a total of 522,700 jobs created in 2011, representing 7.9% of the total work force in Uganda. (Figures from Uganda Tourism Sector Situational Assessment, 2012)
The tourism sector which was prioritized as a primary growth sector in the 2010/11‐2014/15 National Development Plan (NDP), once again has its own fully fledged Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities to spearhead the process of harnessing Uganda’s tourism potential for economic development and social transformation.
We believe that by promoting investment in tourism, we invariably support the whole economy through the creation of employment and additional investment opportunities. In Uganda, we have packaged attractive investment incentives ranging from profit repatriation; tax holidays, facilitating importation of special tourist vehicles and property acquisition through a one stop center, the Uganda Investment Authority. Uganda offers attractive tourism investment opportunities in accommodation, hospitality training, tour operations, and water based attraction development.
Tourism is a green economy; it aspires for social inclusiveness and equality. The beauty about the tourism industry is that it is largely a young people industry, strong on entrepreneurial skilling and has relatively low costs or barriers to entry. Although tourism is one of the major sectors contributing to the social and economic transformation of Uganda, we should not fail to be mindful of the negative effects of the travel and tourism economy to social economic fabric of our societies, the effects of terrorism, drug trafficking, poaching, child labour and prostitutions are raw cancers perpetuated by and through this industry. We need to have in place monitoring mechanisms and sanctions to fight these evils. Parents, Schools and communities must be more vigilant against these vices.
Ladies and Gentlemen, once again I am happy to be hosting you here in Pakwach today.
As you have experienced, we are all safe and secure here today, with no threat from any form of insecurity. Previously displaced people have been successfully resettled and efforts are being put into improving their social and economic conditions. The government is constructing schools and health centers, improving access roads and funding various development initiatives for the people of Northern Uganda.
Let me take this opportunity to inform you and the world at large that Uganda is safe and all parts of Uganda, including northern Uganda are safe and open for tourism.
Uganda is endowed with rich cultural and natural biodiversity found nowhere else in the world. I encourage investors from within Uganda and other countries to start investing in this region because of the significant potential it has.
Before I conclude, I wish to express my appreciation to all our foreign visitors who have come all the way to view the eclipse in Uganda.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, as we participate in activities to mark this unique hybrid eclipse, I invite you to explore other parts of Northern Uganda and indeed the country at large to experience more of our legendary hospitality, culture and the natural beauty of the Pearl of Africa.
I thank you for your kind attention and Happy Eclipse Viewing.
For God and My Country.