Preparations for the World Wildlife Day celebrations are in high gear, Africa Tembelea has established.
According to Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Uganda will join the rest of the world to commemorate the United Nations World Wildlife Day on the 3rd March 2019.
“The national World Wildlife Day 2019 celebrations will be held at Boma ground in the West Nile District of Arua under the theme Harmonious living between Wildlife and People,” said Prof Kamuntu.
Mr. Kamuntu noted that, the theme of the day reminds us of the need to ensure peaceful coexistence between wildlife and people, adding that President Museveni was expected to grace the event as the chief guest.
The Minister said that, Government of Uganda (GoU) through its line Agency Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), working with all stakeholders had undertaken several initiatives towards realizing harmonious living between wildlife and people among which include; involvement of local people in wildlife management decision making and sharing of Protected Area revenues (20%) with adjacent communities.
Prof Kamuntu noted that between 2013-2018 GoU/UWA disbursed over 13 billion shillings to districts neighbouring Protected Areas (Pas), adding that an additional total of over UGX 8bn was yet to be disbursed.
He also said that, between 2008-2017, wildlife utilization programme had generated revenue for different stakeholders UWA, US$ 1,195,312; Local Communities US$ 1,639,847 and US$ 259,447 for District Local Governments.
The establishment of wild animal barriers like trenches (237km), buffalo wall (16km), Mauritius live fences (192.5km), and crocodile cages (12) and electric fencing (10km construction) were ongoing at Rubirizi, said Kamuntu.
Other initiatives include; use of beehives (8,557 hives), chilli cakes, buffer crops like tea to prevent human wildlife conflicts, regulation of protected area resource access, empowerment of communities to engage in alternative livelihoods like community tourism and continuous engagement through education and awareness.
Under the Uganda Wildlife Bill, currently before Parliament, Kamuntu said that Government has proposed the establishment of Community Wildlife Committees for each conservation area and a wildlife damage compensation scheme.
He noted that, prior to the main celebrations, Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities in collaboration with its line sector agencies, the Academia, local communities and all Private Sector Associations in Tourism and Conservation were organizing a series of events and media engagements to commemorate the day.
Among the planned activities are, launch of the World Wildlife Pets Report in partnership with World Animal Protection on 19th February 2019 at Hotel Africana, the Kampala City Clean Up in partnership with Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Trust on 20th February 2019 at Nakawa Market and the Wildlife Conservation Quiz (Tertiary institutions) in partnership with Wildlife Clubs of Uganda on 22nd Feb 2019 at Makerere University.
Other activities the Minister made mention of include; the annual Wildlife Marathon (5km, 10km, 21km) due on 24th Feb 2019 starting and ending at the National Museum in Kampala, a conservation conference in partnership with Nature Uganda on 26th Feb 2019 at Uganda Museum, Wildlife Conservation Quiz (Primary Schools) in partnership with Wildlife Clubs of Uganda on 1st March 2019 at Arua Public Primary School in Arua, Wildlife Conservation Quiz (Secondary Schools) in partnership with Wildlife Clubs of Uganda on 2nd March 2019 at Mvara Secondary School in Arua which will climax with National World Wildlife Day Celebrations Route March around Arua town on the morning of the 3rd March, Exhibitions and Medical Camp throughout the day.
“I call upon all Ugandans and all our conservation and tourism partners to promote and participate in the above events to commemorate the United Nations World Wildlife Day 2019, Kamuntu added.
About World Wildlife Day
On 20th December 2013, the Sixty eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 3rd March of every year as World Wildlife Day to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the several benefits that conservation provides to humanity.
Uganda boasts of a rich and diverse wildlife heritage owing to its unique location at the zone of overlap between the savannah of East Africa and the rainforests of West Africa. The country is distinctly blessed with spectacular landscapes of unrivalled beauty ranging from the great rift valleys to lake basins, rolling plains, tropical forests, vast savannahs to permanently snowcapped mountains. The numerous landforms and habitats support rich and varied wildlife species and communities.
With a recorded 18,783 species of flora and fauna, Uganda ranks among the top most biodiversity rich countries globally. Uganda is host to 53.9% of the world’s remaining population of Mountain gorillas, 11% of the worlds recorded species of birds (which is 50% of Africas bird species richness), 8% of the global mammal diversity (which is 39% of Africas mammal richness), 19% of Africas Amphibian species richness, 14% of Africa’s reptile species richness and 1,249 recorded species of butterflies. The rich wildlife endowment is the number one competitive edge to develop Uganda into a top tourism destination in Africa.
Uganda’s rich wildlife biodiversity has been conserved through a robust policy and legal framework ushered in by the NRM Government in 1986 including through establishment of a network of wildlife Protected Areas covering about 10% of the country’s total land surface. These include 10 National Parks, 12 Wildlife Reserves, 10 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 5 Community Wildlife Areas.
Due to enhanced integrity of the Protected Areas, arising from political stability and associated sustainable security, there has been general increase in wildlife populations. For instance, the elephant population has increased from only 2000 in 1983 to the current 6000; Mountain Gorillas in Bwindi alone have increased from only 298 in 1993 to over 400 by 2018; Buffalos have increased from 25,000 in 1982 to now 36,953; Uganda kob has increased from 40,000 in 1982 to 77,759 surpassing the post-independence populations of 60,000 kobs.
Uganda has been able to successfully reintroduce Rhinos back to the country that had gone extinct in early 1980s. The initial population of 8 has bred and multiplied to the current population of 24 individuals.
Tourism is now the leading foreign exchange earner for Uganda, bringing in US$ 1.45 billion (23.5% of the total exports) annually. With a recorded total of 1.4 million international arrivals, tourism which is largely wildlife-based contributes Ushs 7. 27 trillion (9.0% of GDP) annually.