Items filtered by date: August 2013

intelligence-passout-group-photo-webThe Uganda Deputy Chief of Defense Forces (DCDF) Lieutenant General Charles Angina has commended the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for visionary leadership in establishing an intelligence unit which will prevent illegal crimes against wildlife before they occur.

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Recognition of prominent women who have exhibited exemplary leadership in the conservation field was among the key highlights of the celebrations to mark 50 years of Kidepo Valley National Park on 22nd August,2013 at the Kampala Serena Hotel.The function was graced by the minister of Tourism,Wildlife and Antiquities,Dr. Maria Mutagamba,the US ambassasdor to Uganda Mr. Scott DeLisi and many distinguished personalities. The recognised women got plaques and cash prizes. Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has deliberately gone out to target and build the professional skills of women. This was after the realization that natural resource management and conservation requires women’s participation and empowerment to mitigate threats to biodiversity. There were few women involved in biodiversity and conservation leadership and African women had to be encouraged to break through the largely male-dominated world of business and leadership. There are several women who have shown exemplary leadership in the field of conservation and those who have chosen to take on careers in conservation have shown that they can match and even surpass men in making key contributions to this important field. These mentor young women in conservation career paths. USAID / Uganda Tourism for Biodiversity Program implemented by African Wildlife Foundation in partnership with Uganda Wildlife Authority are therefore launching a ‘Women in Conservation Leadership Program’ to celebrate and recognize outstanding women involved in conservation and wildlife fields in Uganda. The inaugural awards are focusing on women working with UWA. Subsequent ones will focus on all women involved in conservation in the country. This is planned to be an annual event and we believe that, with support from other partners, it will help to encourage and challenge other youth to join conservation and mentor others. The following are profiles of top women who were selected from over 35 nominated UWA women staff. They were chosen by a select committee made up of USAID/ Uganda Tourism for Biodiversity in partnership with UWA. Other five women were selected randomly based on their experience and dedication to conservation MARGARET ADRICULU Dr. Margaret Druciri is a wildlife veterinarian with the Uganda Wildlife Authority who has been working in conservation since 1997. Hailing from Arua District, Dr. Drucili holds a Masters Degree in Wildlife Health and Management and is currently pursuing a PhD in veterinary medicine from Makerere University. From 1997 to 2004, Dr. Druciri worked in a research Project investigating the population viability of lions in Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National parks while addressing lion-people-livestock conflicts. She mastered lion behavior as well as lifestyle and can identify all their whisker patterns, ear notches or color of their eyes the way human fingerprints differentiates us. She gave each of them a name. She got so attached to lions and, in April 2003, rescued a big male lion from the outskirts of Masindi town where it was terrorizing people and predating their livestock. People call her the Lion woman. In 2005, UWA asked Dr. Margaret to help on the eland project at Kidepo Valley National Park. Later, she was recruited and deployed at Queen Elizabeth Protected Area in 2006 where she works up to date. She now heads the Research and Monitoring unit in Queen Elizabeth protected area where she has rescued injured, rescues injured, orphaned or problem causing wildlife. What people admire about her is when she puts a dying lion on a drip hanged on the branches of a tree, knowing that if the lion managed to get up, she could be its next food. Her other work includes monitoring and management wildlife and population health as well as wildlife surveys and general park management. NORAH KAZIGATI MBUBI Norah Kazigati Mbubi is based in Kibale National Park as a Community Conservation Ranger. Her work is to build and maintain good relationship between the Park and the communities. Norah has been working with Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for 12 years. Her passion to conserve wildlife began during her O’Level when she was a member of Wildlife Clubs Uganda. Her best moment was in 2011 when she emerged the best female in range shooting using the LMG gun in the inter force sports competition which was held at Kigo shooting ground. Norah envisions more women working and getting involved in conservation. She wishes to see some reserves elevated into national parks. She also would like to see conflicts between animals and communities addressed and the gap between UWA and the communities bridged. MAUREEN ARABUUZA A head-ranger in the Lake Mburo National Park, Maureen is a mother of three children and a wife. She has been working with conservation for 13 years. She is part of the park patrol teams and sometimes can be out for eight straight hours traversing the bush to safeguard animals from poachers and encroachers. OLIVIA BIIRA Olivia Biira has 14years conservation experience. She started her work career as a community conservation ranger in Rwenzori Mountains National Park and was later promoted to Warden; Community Conservation. UWA top management seconded her to work with Fauna and Flora International on the culture, values and conservation project as the team leader to ensure integration of the two parks cultural values into their respective management plans. She now works as the warden community conservation for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where her major role is to increase community support for wildlife conservation. Olivia has worked in five wildlife protected areas and coordinated conservation activities in 13 Districts. Her best memory was when UWA and the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu signed a memorandum of understanding to manage the cultural sites in RMNP. One elder said “This is the first good thing UWA has done to the people of Rwenzori” She remembered all the revenue sharing and other projects supported by UWA in the area and she realized how people value their heritage and the importance of culture in conservation. JANET OKWEL Janet Okwel has worked with UWA for the last 17 years, having turned her back on accountancy and secretarial studies. She is senior guide in Murchison Falls National Park. Her tour-guiding work has exposed her to a diversity of people to whom she explains various issues to do with wildlife. Her best moment was in 2001 when she was awarded as best performer in the tourism department in the presence of the UWA board chairman. In 2009, Janet was taken to south England for a refresher course. Her vision is to see Uganda as the leading tourist destination in the world. LILLIAN NSUBUGA Nsubuga Lillian has been UWA’s Public Relations Manager since February 2004. She was appreciated for her excellent performance and team work during the LCA Council meeting and breakfast meeting held at Serena Hotel, and described as being a role model to the rest of the employees. She greatly exhibited a spirit of teamwork, personal commitment and determination which raised the profile of the organization and what it stands for to international heights. She has a clean record with no warning letter of disciplinary hearing on file. She was appointed Ag. Director Legal and Corporate Affairs in 2011 and is noted for being an asset to the organization and for passionately protecting the image of UWA. Lillian is described as being an assiduous worker, selfless and always willing to work towards achieving organizational goals. MARGARET KASUMBA Margaret is a Senior Warden – Legal. She largely concentrates on prosecution of wildlife crime and is currently on an exchange programme with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) in Arusha, Tanzania. Since 2004, Margaret has accumulated over 10 years of conservation work with Uganda Wildlife Authority. Margaret’s drive has been the successful balancing of work with family and attributes it to the support from her husband, Cpt. Tumuhairwe Ruhanga, who usually looks after her children whenever she travels for official work. Her love for wildlife started in her child days. Unlike many people, Margaret says she used to love snakes, insects and other small animals. It made her sad when her siblings and friends always wanted to kill such animals. This passion grew stronger when Margaret joined Wildlife Clubs of Uganda in her high school. Margaret’s vision is to have a poaching-free Uganda where wildlife enjoy their natural habitat with no interference. JUSTINE NAMARA Justine is a Senior Planning and Environmental Impact Assessment Officer with 10 years of experience in management planning for protected areas. Her work ensures that all areas of wildlife are analyzed and protected in ways that meet international environmental standards by conducting compliance monitoring for designed plans. Justine is the focal person on emerging issues which include oil and gas extraction in protected areas as well as hydro power development and mining. She is the environment ‘eye’ in regard to the development of such areas. Justine’s Vision is prosperous conservation with the right funding that is prioritized by government PAMELA ANYING Pamela is Senior Warden for Forest Restoration in Mount Elgon National Park. She holds a degree in Botany and Zoology. Her research in wildlife for natural resource management was the preamble to her entry into UWA where she has been for the last 13 years. She has been involved in, among other things, aerial wildlife counting as co-pilot, community tourism projects and reforestation programs in several parks. Pamela’s work requires continuous monitoring of restoration activities to ensure that the communities follow the set guidelines. Her best moment was when UWA considered and sponsored her for training as a pilot in May 2002 in South Africa. Pamela is inspired by her parents who were engaged in enforcement work. Her father was a senior pilot in the Police Air Wing and her mother a Criminal Investigations Officer. Her vision is to be a world renowned conservationist. GLADYS NAKIDDE Agnes is a Tourism Warden in Mount Elgon National Park. As a mother and a wife, she balances conservation of wildlife with her domestic responsibilities. Having worked in conservation for 12 years, Agnes says her job gives her opportunity to meet and interact with different people who come as tourists and end up as good friends. Her best moment was the day she qualified as Warden Tourism in Queen Elizabeth National Park to welcome and have a luncheon with the Duke of Edinburg. This was during the 2007 Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Queen’s pavilion. She loves it when she is invited to market Uganda tourism products at international fairs like in Berlin and London. Agnes’ vision is to see Uganda’s protected areas become a world class leading destination. DR.GLADYS KALEMA-ZIKUSOKA Dr. Gladys founded Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) in 2003 with Lawrence Zikusoka, Director of ICT for Development and her husband of 12 years. She has been working with conservation for 17 years. But her passion for conservation began back in 1988 when she revived a Wildlife Club at Kibuli Secondary School as the Chairperson. She attained her college degree in Royal Veterinary College, University of London in 1995 and worked as the first Veterinary Officer of Uganda National Parks from 1996-2000. She left to do a zoological medicine residency and masters in specialized veterinary medicine at North Carolina State University and North Carolina Zoological Park. Dr. Gladys balances her roles, as a mother, wife and Founder and CEO of a young conservation NGO by spending as much time as possible with her children who have accompanied her to work in the national parks since they were two months old and are already very knowledgeable about wildlife. She has won several international conservation recognitions and is currently a Member of Uganda Wildlife Authority Board of Trustees. Her CTPH’s mission is to promote biodiversity conservation by enabling people, wildlife and livestock to coexist through improving their health and livelihoods in and around protected areas in Africa. She believes people, wildlife and livestock can live in balance, health and harmony with local communities acting as stewards of their environment. While working as the first veterinary officer for UWA in 1996, Dr. Gladys led a team that investigated the first skin disease outbreak, scabies, in the critically endangered mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which had led to the death of infant gorillas and was traced to people living around the park. CTPH has three integrated programs: wildlife conservation, public health and sustainable livelihoods. Conservation: It works closely with UWA and community volunteers, to support wildlife health monitoring. One of the achievements is the Gorilla Research Clinic in Buhoma village, Bwindi, which analyses Feacal samples from gorillas, domestic animals and sickly humans through a partnership with the local hospitals, to trace the connection of the diseases being investigated in the animals. This proactive management of wildlife helps prevent disease outbreaks. Community: CTPH works with local health centres to support Village Health and Conservation Teams (VHCTs). These are community volunteers promoting health and conservation at the household level and are sustained with income generating projects and Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs). The VHCTs also promote community led water shed management. This has resulted in measurable improvements in community conservation and public health practices. Youth: CTPH engages the youth in conservation through community tele-centres and the Impenetrable Kids League where, in the process of learning technology and sports, they also learn about the integrated conservation and public health issues. LILLY AJAROVA Lilly graduated from Makerere University and then pursued a postgraduate diploma in International Tourism Management from Vienna in 1996, Austria. Today, she boasts of a rich ten years plus’ experience in tourism development and environmental management. Her eight year term at UWA saw her serve in various senior management capacities, including public relations manager, marketing manager, and tourism development manager. These portfolios enabled Lilly represent UWA and the Uganda tourism and wildlife industry in various conferences, workshops, exhibitions and training programs in Africa and Europe. She did a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) at Maastricht School of Management, Netherlands, and Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute, ESAMI. Her research was on the analysis of chimpanzee tourism in Uganda. She is currently the Executive Director’s at CSWCT. She balances her duty, keeping the chimps safe and healthy with being a model mother to her children PAULINE NANTONGO Pauline is the Executive Director of Ecotrust - the Environmental Conservation Trust of Uganda, which she joined in 2006. She has over 15 years of experience in Natural Resources Management in managing conservation financing mechanisms, land trust, community based conservation initiatives, communication and building partnerships for conservation. Prior to this Pauline worked as Deputy Executive Director for NatureUganda and was responsible for initiation and overseeing the implementation of several conservation projects. Amongst other achievements, Pauline has successfully established a commercially viable payment for environmental services scheme, linking Ugandan communities to the global carbon market. Through this scheme, households are rewarded for their sustainable land-use practices using payments such as carbon credits. Pauline sits on several Boards of Directors for various conservation organisations within Uganda and outside. Pauline has worked in conservation for over 15 years where she finds her input in identifying innovative solutions for communities facing environmental challenges very exciting. She is married to Patrick Kalunda whom she describes as a very supportive husband. They have 3 daughters. She says she balances her work and family by planning ahead of time and allocating time for family, work, church and herself. She has also taught her children to be independent and to work with minimum supervision. Her best moments have been in travel. She has travelled all over the world which makes her appreciate how Uganda is blessed. She would like to see a future where Ugandans become responsible citizens and understand that every single environmental action counts. Dr. DIANH NALWANGA Dr Dianah Nalwanga Wabwire, 36, is a Conservation Biologist, with a Masters on Science in Conservation Biology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. She got her PhD in 2012 in Biodiversity Conservation. She loves birds, butterflies, mammals and plants. She is one of the few scientific ornithologists in the country. She is married and has three children. Her husband works in Masindi. She says she tries to separate work from domestic duties by not carrying work home and keeping weekends for the family. Dianah has been working with conservation all her working life since 2001. Conservation gives her life especially working in birds where she says she can even work un-paid. Dianah’s best memory is when his efforts result into tangible benefits and are appreciated especially by the communities she works with. The challenge is explaining the value of birds to land owners who destroy bird habitats for agriculture saying they have no money value. Her dream is to see that most of the Ugandans understand the basics of conservation in whatever field they are working. HELLEN LUBOWA For 19 years, Helen Lubowa has worked in the conservation and community development, in almost all parts of Uganda. She studied natural resource management and through her work, developed a great passion in conservation. She is married, has one child, Lynn, and several others she is looking after. Her most memorable moment was when she influenced the negative attitudes of communities and conservationists around Bwindi National Park causing an attitude change towards sustainable conservation towards the park. Her most trying moment is when there is lack of recognition of efforts put in conservation. One particularly trying incident was when, one midmorning, while riding along Mpungu- Kayonza road in Bwindi NP coming from a community conservation meeting, she almost fell off a bike on to a big cobra which was sun bathing. Lubowa believes conservation is the future of Uganda and would like to see more women get involved in conservation and more benefiting from it. As conservationists Uganda should aim at translating the conservation efforts into income to the people or economic growth seen by every person because this will encourage people to support conservation and tourism.
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Mr. Taleb Rifai has been re-elected to the position of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) secretary general for another four years.
Mr. Rifai who made his maiden visit to Uganda in June 2013 during which he met Uganda leader President Yoweri Museveni and other tourism stake holders, was the only sole candidate for the position.
The UNWTO Secretary General said in Zambia after his election that “I was first chosen as deputy secretary general in Senegal. I was first elected as the secretary general in Mali. Now I am blessed to be re-elected in Zambia-Zimbabwe."
Mr. Rifai added that his job is not easy explaining that the role of being both a reformer and consensus-builder can be polar opposites; however two things can go both-in-hand and should go hand-in-hand. He added   "We cannot live in a world that is static; everything changes. Reform is not just a character or a passion. We have no option but to keep reforming and keep changing."
The Secretary General thanked staff in Madrid and UNWTO members for making his work visible. He said he not only welcomes scrutiny, but rather encourage them.
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Lillian Nakato NsubugaThe Board of Trustees, Executive Director, Management and Staff of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) with deep sorrow announce the untimely death of our Public Relations Manager; Ms. Lillian Nakato Nsubuga, who passed away on Sunday, the 25th of August 2013 after a short illness at Mulago Hospital.
There will be a funeral service on Monday the 26th of August 2013 at 10.00 a.m at Watoto Church - North in Kisaasi and thereafter; a vigil at her parents' home in Kanyanya along Bahai Road. On Tuesday the 27th of August 2013, there will be a funeral service at Saint Paul's Church Kanyanya on Bahai Road at 10:00 a.m; and thereafter, burial will take place in Kiwumu - Kyaggwe off Nakasajja Road on Gayaza road at 4:00 p.m.
Ms. Lillian Nakato Nsubuga was born 20th August 1969 and joined UWA on 16th February 2004. Three days ago, she received the most prestigious Women in Conservation Award from UWA's Board of Trustees for her outstanding role in biodiversity conservation. Ms Lillian Nakato Nsubuga obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from Makerere University and a Masters of Science in International Development from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom.
During her nine-year career at UWA, she nurtured a strategic and mutually beneficial relationship between UWA and the media at national and international levels. She had a deep understanding of how the media functions in the Ugandan context. She applied this as the basis to effectively communicate to the public; the intrinsic value of wildlife and nature based tourism to the economy of Uganda.
Lillian has left a big gap at UWA, which will be difficult to fill. And UWA will never be the same again.
May Her Soul Rest in Eternal Peace.   
 
DR. ANDREW G. SEGUYA

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CAM receiving CNN AWARDThe United States Ambassador to Uganda Mr. Scott DeLisi on August 22,2013 launched the Wildlife card which will be used by visitors to access the national parks and the services therein.Below are his remarks during the function at Kampala Serena Hotel which also served as celebrations to mark 50 years of Kidepo Valley National Park

Good evening.  I am delighted to join you tonight as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Kidepo Valley National Park!  Kidepo is Uganda’s most remote and pristine national park, with abundant wildlife and stunning landscapes. In my first year in Uganda I have visited the park twice and have enjoyed every moment there even in a torrential rainfall last July.  

    In fact, it was during that rainfall that we encountered a leopard who, like us, was just hoping to stay dry and who was most annoyed to have us tagging along snapping pictures despite the downpour.   The same rainfall turned the Kidepo river into a raging torrent rather than a trickle.  And although it kept us from visiting the same hot springs on that trip, it was still quite an adventure.  

Kidepo is a park that has it all….lions and leopards…giraffe and zebra…buffalo and cheetah…rock hyrax and their near cousin (though it is hard to believe) the elephant.  It is also home to an amazing number of bird species, including the elusive Karamoja Apalis, the pursuit of which will continue to draw me back to the park again and again until finally I add it to my life list!

Even without the Karmajo Apalis, however, Kidepo Valley National Park would remain one of my favorite destinations in Uganda. Its pristine beauty shines through, whether in driving rain or brilliant sunshine. And unlike parks in nearby Kenya, every sighting and experience feels like it is yours alone.  You are not surrounded by a dozen other vehicles and flashing cameras of hundreds of other tourists.  This is your experience.  You can be attuned to nature and your environment in a way that is increasingly rare in the world.  It is incredibly special.  And it is here in Uganda.  

Kidepo Valley National Park has the potential to attract many more tourists and contribute much more to the economic development of neighboring communities and of the nation.  But as it enters into the second half of its first century it still needs to be managed effectively.  

Tourists are willing to pay considerably for the chance to visit Kidepo and have a unique, and seemingly exclusive African wildlife experience.  But the day that the park becomes overly developed and the personal experience diminished, that is the day that Kidepo loses its competitive edge and becomes no different than the parks in Kenya. And that is when the visitors stop paying top dollar for the unique experience they enjoy today.

We all want Ugandan tourism to prosper and flourish and contribute significantly to the economic growth of the nation.  But we must recognize and take advantage of the unique attributes that set Ugandan tourism apart from tourism elsewhere in the region.  And those attributes include the exclusivity of parks like Kidepo or the chance to encounter primates, including the mountain gorillas in Bwindi or habituated chimps in Kibale, Kyambura, or Budongo in a very special and personal way.  

It is no secret that my wife and I are frequent visitors to the country’s many national parks and wildlife reserves and we love to share the experience with visiting family and guests.  We know first-hand what an incredible experience it is to sit with the Nkuringo gorilla family in the mountains or to chase after chimps in the Kyambura Gorge.  

We also understand the obstacles you face as you work to maintain and conserve these precious resources, and I assure you that the U.S. Mission is here to face them with you.

Why?  Why do we care?  Because we know that these gifts of nature cannot be replaced.  Places like Kidepo Valley must be preserved.  But we also know that preserving Kidepo, or any other of this nation's other beautiful parks, must also contribute to the broader growth and development of the nation.  While we want these parks to contribute to enrich our planet, they must also enrich Ugandans or there is little incentive here to preserve them and to protect the diverse species that make them such an attraction.

We do not work to preserve these parks solely because we love nature -- although that is an important consideration.  We also act because we want to see Uganda succeed and we believe that to do so we must take advantage of those wonderful natural resources with which this nation is blessed by god. We must respect them, protect them, and develop them appropriately and wisely so that they will benefit the nation for the generations to come.   

Our ultimate goal is to help Uganda become a stable, prosperous, democratic nation that is a leader in the east African region.  As we work to shape that future we are guided by President Obama's strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on several critical priorities areas for U.S. engagement on the continent.  These priorities include spurring economic growth, stimulating trade and investment, and promoting opportunity and development.
 
 Working in partnership to advance Uganda’s enormous tourism potential touches on all three of these priorities. And 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.  

From the awe-inspiring Murchison Falls, to the amazing fauna of Budongo Forest and from the beautiful savannas of Kidepo, to the grandeur of the Nile, this nation's riches inspire a sense of peace and reverence for the wonder of nature.  There is something to touch everyone's heart and to excite your passion.  

For my wife and me, as some of you are aware, bird watching is a particular attraction and Uganda is one of the finest countries in Africa for birdwatchers, not only because of the unusually high number of species found here, but also because it is relatively easy to get to several bird-rich habitats.  This beautiful environment should be shared with and enjoyed by others and we want to help that to happen.

Tonight I am proud to emphasize how proud we are to be a partner with the Government of Uganda in this important economic sector, and to help Uganda maximize its tourism potential.  

Several months ago, we launched the Tourism for Biodiversity project with those who know first-hand Uganda’s natural beauty and the urgent need to protect it: the Uganda Wildlife Authority, the National Forestry Authority, Nature Uganda, and the Uganda Community Tourism Association.  Through this project, the American people will provide 10 million dollars over the next four years for tourism development and biodiversity conservation in Uganda.   

President’s Obama’s strategy highlights “boosting broad-based economic growth” as critical to Africa’s development.  What better way to contribute to this boost than through tourism and biodiversity?  We can give Uganda a source of revenue for development that will last for all time even as we preserve the natural world around us while making it more accessible to tourism.

And that brings me back to this celebration of Kidepo Valley National Park's 50th year celebration.

You know how those expensive, glossy travel magazines often feature a wonderful tourist destination on their cover, and call it “the best-kept secret”? Well, that is Kidepo …. and I believe that it should show up on the cover of National Geographic magazine, for it truly is an amazing, beautiful and special place.

Of course, now that it won a very prestigious spot on CNN’s list of Africa’s 10 best national parks, Kidepo will not be our little secret any longer.  And that’s a good thing, so long as we manage the park and its future effectively.  As CNN reported, it might be the most picturesque park in Africa.  If you have been there, you will agree. If you have not been there, start planning your trip tonight! The tour companies present this evening will be more than happy to help you, I am sure of that.

I can guarantee that you will cherish the experience and, it will be even better if we work together to address the challenges that Kidepo, like all parks in Uganda, must overcome.  These include challenges of accessibility and limited infrastructure within the park.  In addition we need to work together to ensure that local communities derive enhanced economic benefits from the park or else there will be little reason for them to preserve it or protect the many diverse species that live within its boundaries.    

Our Tourism for Biodiversity Project is working to address these challenges, in Kidepo and in other protected areas as well.  We are working with UWA to increase access to the park by improving internal infrastructure and transport links and by including Kidepo in the UWA international marketing plan.  In that vein, I see a number of our private sector partners here tonight (including international air carriers).  Let’s work together to take the lid off this best kept secret, and help share Kidepo with the rest of the world!

 The Tourism for Biodiversity project is also assisting UWA to diversify the tourism experience through the development of new trails and additional lodging options. The project will also work to expand bird-watching opportunities, not because I believe it is one of the single most enjoyable ways one can spend their time in the bush, but because it is one of the most lucrative markets in Uganda.  My wife and I took some of the bird photos shown here tonight during our last visit to the park and I can promise you that this is a market that has great unexploited potential.  

The American government is fully prepared to invest in tourism promotion and biodiversity protection in partnership with the Ugandan people because we sincerely believe that this will yield excellent returns for Uganda’s future economic growth.  Competition for tourists is fierce, however.  

Now is the time for government, local leaders, park authorities, tour operators, and resort owners to work together to bring tourism infrastructure and services up to international standards.  We all want to see Uganda become the preeminent tourist destination in Africa.  To achieve this common goal, we must work together.  

We look forward to continuing our work with UWA, the National Forestry Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, and other partners to put Uganda at the top of more travelers’ lists in the years to come.  More importantly, we look forward to doing our part to create a future in which a peaceful, prosperous, healthy and democratic Uganda is respected throughout the world for its responsible stewardship of some of our planets most precious natural gifts.

  Thank you and good luck to UWA with the launch of the Wildlife Card!  You're going to do great.

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 All is set for the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of Kidepo Valley National Park popularly known as the True African Wilderness. The national park in north eastern Uganda was gazetted in 1962 and is famous for the river sand beds, spectacular landscapes, unique fauna and flora and 486 bird species. Of its over 80 mammal species,28 are endemic to the region.

The main celebrations will be in the Ugandan capital at the posh Kampala Serena Hotel on August 22nd,2013 and will be closely followed by another function in Kidepo during which funds from the Revenue sharing scheme and the sport hunting in the Karenga corridor will be disbursed to the neighbouring communities.

Some of the activities to mark the celebrations will be the official launch of the Kidepo brand as a True African wilderness, recognizing women in conservation, launching of the Uganda Wildlife Authority 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and appreciating partners who have been instrumental in conservation of various protected areas.

During the function to be attended by high ranking government officials, diplomats and international dignitaries, a comprehensive documentary of Kidepo Valley National Park Past and Present will be screened .Recent international accolades won by various parks will also be presented to the Chief Conservation Area Managers.

As part of the activities to mark the golden jubilee, a familiarization tour of Kidepo Valley National Park for leading local and international media personnel was conducted last week with UWA, AeroLink and Uganda/USAID Tourism for Biodiversity Project as co-sponsors.

Kidepo Valley National park was recently recognized by the CNN Travel site as one of the best national parks in Africa given its spectacular landscapes and incredible herds of wildlife. According to the Chief Conservation Area manager Mr. Johnson Masereka the visitor numbers have recently gone up and many investors have expressed interest in putting up tourism infrastructure.

A number of new trails are being developed, accommodation facilities being expanded and tourism products diversified. Access to Kidepo has greatly improved by both road and by air. AeroLink now makes scheduled flights to Kidepo while the roads through Moroto and Kitgum have also been improved.

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World Tourism Day 2013 Celebrations
This year, the World Tourism Day celebrations will be held on the 27th of September 2013 at Booma Grounds in Fort Portal town.
The international theme for this year’s World Tourism Day celebrations is
“Tourism and Water, Protecting Our Common Future” and will be focusing on Mount Rwenzori as the biggest source of fresh water and livelihood for this country.
Uganda Tourism Board has lined up several activities to commemorate the WTD week including the following
1.    An 5 days exhibitions showcasing the various attractions of Uganda, the ways of life of the people of Uganda, culture, history and tourism facilities and services
2.    Bird Watching in Kibale National Park
3.    Chimp tracking in Kibale National
4.    Nature walks and community tours
5.    And the Mount Rwenzori Climbing Challenge dubbed Royal as it will be led by His Majesty King Oyo
As you are all aware, we use the World Tourism day Celebrations to promote Domestic Tourism and to encourage Ugandans to visit the numerous attractions within their vicinity and beyond. I therefore wish to invite all Ugandans to come down to Fort Portal and to actively participate in these various activities.  
UTB is organizing a fundraising Dinner for World Tourism Day celebrations to interest the corporate institutions in taking part in the planned activities. This dinner is slated for Thursday 29th of August 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel Rwenzori ballroom
The objectives of the dinner are:
a) Launch of a behavior change campaign targeted at all Ugandans to embrace local tourism (recently, the UNWTO Secretary General remarked that “a country that is not visited by its own people should not be visited at all”)
b) Working towards improving the image of our country through promoting its unique tourism endowments.
c) Lobbying the government and members of the private sector to embrace tourism marketing campaigns both locally and internationally that are aimed at promoting the tourism potential in our country.
The activities we have lined up are good opportunities for various private and public companies and organizations to not only contribute to the promotion of tourism in this country but also in the process enhance great visibility and good relations with the government.
The Ministry and UTB have teamed up with youthful event managers, led by Wasp Limited in addition to the Tooro youth who were requested by His Majesty the King Oyo to spearhead preparations for this event.  Tourism has the potential to address the rampant unemployment growth in Uganda if the youth embraced it and so this is an opportunity for all of Uganda’s youth.  
I therefore urge our young people and my fellow countrymen and women to come together to bring our heritage to life and tourism potential to the forefront.
Henry Ford once said: “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Let us therefore work together to succeed in reviving our domestic tourism potential for our own benefit and for the benefit of future generations.
I thank you all and implore the media to also wholeheartedly support us in our campaign to promote behavior change in regard to embracing domestic tourism.
For God and My Country

Hon. Dr. Maria Mutagamba
Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities

Published in General News

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