Buhoma, Kanungu – Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has today named a baby gorilla Butime.
The naming of the baby gorilla born on August 27, 2020 was in honor of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities minister Col (Rtd.) Tom Butime’s visit to Bwindi Impenetrable National park where he tracked the Rushegura group as part of activities for the re launch of primate tourism in the country.
In March this year, UWA suspended primate tourism, related research and filming following the confirmation of COVID-19 cases in the country and subsequently closed all the parks in April. The savannah parks were reopened in July, and the reopening of primate parks marks the full resumption of tourism activities in all protected areas.
While officiating at the re-launch, Col. Butime said that the suspension was a painful but necessary undertaking that helped protect both the primates and humans from possible infection of the coronavirus. He acknowledged that the suspension had a negative impact on UWA revenues hence its operations.
“Gorilla tourism accounts for over 70% of UWA’s revenue and therefore its suspension has had a negative effect on the revenues of UWA and some of its operations had to be scaled down giving priority to wildlife protection,” Col Butime said.
He further revealed that the suspension of primate tourism activities had affected not only the economy but also the local communities.
“People neighboring the protected areas have been getting 20% revenue share from gate collections and communities here also get 10 dollars’ gorilla levy on every gorilla permit sold, all this has been negatively affected,” he said.
Minister Butime reiterated governments commitment to the safety of visitors who come to Uganda saying that the tourism sector has put in place adequate standard operating procedures (SoPs) that would help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The minister’s comments come a few hours after Uganda was awarded the ‘Safer Tourism Seal’ on account of the destinations recognition that the hospitality industry’s number one job is the protection of its guests and those working in the industry.
“As a Ministry, we have since put in place standard operating procedure for the tourism sector so that we can restart tourism activities in a safer manner. We pay particular attention to the safety of our visitors and we will continue to do so to ensure every visitor who comes to Uganda, returns home safely,” the Minister said.
With Entebbe International Airport due to open on October 1, the next course of action is to market Uganda post covid-19 so that the country can attract people from different walks of life to come and visit the country, the minister added.
Africa Tembelea has since learnt that when Entebbe Airport reopens on October 1st, nine airlines are set to resume business. These are Uganda Airlines, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Brussels Airlines, Qatar Airways, Kenya Airways, Air Tanzania and Ethiopian Airlines.
Speaking at the relaunch, UWA Board of Trustees Chairman, Dr. Pantaleon Kasoma said that the resumption of primate tourism is very significant because it is a major driver for visitors to come back and tour Uganda as primates are the country’s flagship species.
He said that as UWA, they are putting in place measures to support recovery. Some of the measures he mentioned include a raft of incentives to both individual visitors and tour operators.
“For example, for every 30 gorilla permits bought, the tour operator gets two permits free. Every gorilla permit purchased entitles a visitor to free entry to Mount Elgon National Park or Toro Semliki Wildlife Reserve. Filming fees have also been reduced to enable creation of material for marketing,” Dr. Kasoma said.