President Yoweri Museveni on Friday September 28, 2018 passed out 487 wildlife ranger recruits at Paraa Ranger Training School, Purongo Sub-county, Nwoya District.
Flanked by the state minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Hon Godfrey Ssuubi Kiwanda and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director Mr. Sam Mwanda, Mr. Museveni congratulated the UWA rangers (93 women and 394 men) who underwent a four-month training and urged them to make use of the skills gained in first aid, basic intelligence, community intelligence, community conservation concepts and law related to wildlife among others.
“I congratulate the Uganda Wildlife Authority for building manpower to protect the parks. Lawlessness in the park is going down and the benefits are visible. For example, the elephant population has gone up,” noted President Museveni.
UWA, a semi-autonomous government agency was created by act of parliament to help
conserve and manage Uganda’s wildlife for the people of Uganda and the whole world. With 10 national parks and 12 wildlife reserves under its jurisdiction, UWA’s role in managing the country’s tourism industry and attracting investors to the sector has been a significant one. UWA also manages five community wildlife management areas and 13 wildlife sanctuaries.
The challenges facing the management and conservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Uganda are myriad, and they include poaching, competition in the regional tourism market, human wildlife conflict and wildlife crimes.
To this end, the president noted that the Tourism Sector, had emerged as the top foreign exchange earner with growth rates propelling the service sector, jobs and employment thus boosting the inter- linkages between other sectors. The president urged Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) to put in more effort in promoting and marketing the country.
“The Uganda Tourism Board and our embassies should market our country’s uniqueness. We must work towards increasing the numbers of tourists visiting Uganda from the current two million annually,” Museveni said.
About the roads in the parks, the head of state said, “we must have a master plan on fixing them. The government will find the money”.
He further noted that the Karuma-Pakwach road was made to ease access to South Sudan but that it had also greatly boosted tourism.
On infrastructure, the President said that it did not make sense for a tourist going to Murchison Falls to first land in Entebbe. They could land in Gulu or Soroti for those touring the Elgon area. The airstrips in these places, including Kasese, will be upgraded to support tourism.
But much as UWA continues to upgrade its security unit, it still has an uphill task to mitigate human wildlife conflict as well as win the support of the communities neighbouring conservation areas.
Museveni however says, there are many ways to check this, “The communities could engage in activities that naturally would keep the animals at bay, like bee-keeping, tea-growing, cultivating red pepper, among others”.
He also said that government would look for money to erect the electric fence where it was possible to do so.
“The laws against poaching should be strengthened. I am also glad to learn that you have introduced dogs at the airport to sniff ivory. I have instructed the Uganda Revenue Authority to acquire scanners which can look through all vehicles at the borders”.
In his closing remarks, president Museveni said that he would direct the minister of health to build a health centre in Paraa to serve the workers, the community and the tourists.