The members of the Uganda Wildlife Authority eighth Board of Trustees (BOT) have completed a two day familiarization tour of Lake Mburo National Park in South Western Uganda, to acquaint themselves with the developments, ongoing projects and tourism activities in the area.
The board was led by the chairman Mr. Benjamin Otto and the UWA Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Seguya. Other members of the board, who visited the park bordering Kiruhura, Mbarara and Isingiro districts, are Eng. Ivan Batuma, Hon. Edward Balidawa, Dr. Akankwasah Barirega, Dr. Dianah Nalwanga, Dr. Panta Kasoma, Mr. Leonard Wamakote, Mr. Kagumaho Kakuyo and Ms Zeridah Zigiti.
During their supervisory visit, the board members inspected the sites for planned accommodation facilities at Kazuma Look out hill, Kigambira hill,the former interpretation centre in Rwonyo and the Enyemebwa Cultural Education Centre funded by Fauna and Flora International and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
The board members also visited a two block school(Nyanga Community Primary School) in Rurambira parish constructed with funds from the Revenue Sharing scheme and Sport hunting to the tune of 46m/= and a church hall valued at 15m/=.
The members flanked by top management inspected the ongoing construction works for the new park office block at Minekye hill, senior staff quarters and the new pier for the boat landing at the Lake Mburo close to the UWA managed Lakeside restaurant.
The board chairman was pleased to learn from the chief park warden, Mr. Asa Kule Musinguzi that visitation to the park had steadily increased to 26,000 individuals last year from 12,000 in 2005, and the gross revenue risen to 2 billion shillings.
Next week as Uganda celebrates the international tourism day in Mbarara, UWA will give out a total of 175 million shillings to the districts of Kiruhura, Isingiro and Mbarara Municipal Council as revenue sharing funds for 2014/2015.
Lake Mburo National Park is one of Uganda’s smallest parks and closest to Kampala City, making it the favorite destination for tourists with limited time to stay in the country.
A new born was discovered on 11/09/2016 by the trackers who had gone to track Bikyingi gorilla group. It is believed to have been born the previous day (10/09/2016). The new born brings the number of gorilla individuals in the group to 22.
Bikyingi gorilla group is located in Rushaga, South of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and comprises of 21 individuals i.e. 1 silver back, 9 adult females 2 sub adults and 9 infants. It is one of the two groups that are undergoing habituation in the park. Bikyingi is also the group where the famous Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) is conducted at the moment. Habituation of the group started in 2013 while the GHE started in January 2015. The last birth among the gorillas in BINP was on 21/08/2016 in Bushaho- a group under habituation located in Nkuringo in the Southern sector of the park.
Bikyingi group was first sited in Bikyingi area, near Rushaga before the process to habituate it started, hence it was decided to name it according to the area. The only silver back and leader of the group was also named Bikyingi. Naming of the other individuals has not yet been done as the gorillas are still shy because they are not yet fully habituated. Therefore, the mother of the new born does not bear a name at the moment. With the 9 adult females, all with babies, it is a very interesting and amazing group to visit for the Gorilla Habituation Experience.
The other special thing of Bikyingi group is that the silver back-Bikyingi is very friendly to all the babies in the group and is always with them most of the time, more time than the babies, except the newly born, stay with their mothers. The babies mainly go to their mothers to breast feed and return to the silver back as soon as they are done with breast feeding! This is one of the reasons it has been difficult to determine the mothers of particular babies as all the adult females in the group have babies.
The elephant is also one of the most preferred species that contributes greatly to tourism revenues, and hence community livelihood. In 2004, elephant game-viewing tourism in Botswana was estimated to be contributing up to US$39 million to GDP. A research done in 1993 estimated the net financial returns from high-quality elephant ecotourism in selected savanna localities at about US$5/ha.
Continent-wide survey reveals massive decline in African savannah elephants from 1.3 million in 1979 to only about 352,000 individuals. Africa lost 30% (about 144,000 individuals) of Its Elephants between 2007 and 2014, and it is estimated that poachers are killing off 8 percent of savanna elephants a year. Meanwhile, another study found that the second pachyderm species, African forest elephants, which lost 62% of their population between 2002 and 2011, will require at least a century to recover because they breed significantly slower than thought. Scientists estimate that fewer than 100,000 forest elephants now remain.
I hope that this gesture will be emulated and supported by all conservation loving Africans and conservation partners. The government of Uganda will continue to pro actively engage in bilateral and multilateral collaborations to promote cross border conservation agreements to curb poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking.
Once again, I congratulate the chief walker and your team upon the progress of the project so far accomplished and I am optimistic, you will successfully pull it off with very tangible results.
I now take this singular honor to close today’s events and wish the “WALK FOR ELEPHANTS team journey mercies and success in the accomplishment of this prestigious Conservation campaign.
Professor Ephraim Kamuntu
MINISTR OF TOURISM,WILDLFE AND ANTIQUITIES
It was joy and happiness in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park (BINP) following the birth of a new baby gorilla on 21/08/2016. The baby gorilla was discovered in Bushaho area on 22/08/2016, a day after it born to Bunyindo-one of the four adult females in Bushaho gorilla group. The group is located in Nkuringo in the Southern sector of BINP and is one of the two groups in the park which have been under habituation since 2013. Habituation the group is expected to end in 2017. The second group that is under habituation is Bikyingi to which the visitors for the popular Gorilla Habituation Experience (GHE) are taken.
Prior to its habituation, Bushaho group frequently ranged in Bushaho area from which it derived its name. The birth of the new born brought the number of gorilla individuals in the group to nine (09) and the composition of the group is: 1 silver back, 1 black back, 4 adult females, 1 juvenile and 2 infants. Bahati, who leads the group is the only silver back in the group at the moment. He had been habituated earlier when he was still in Nkuringo group until he left Nkuringo group in around 2012 to live a solitary life. It was during that solitude that he grabbed some wild individuals to form his own group that was later named Bushaho.