Nakasongola – Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was on Thursday reopened to tourist after a management dispute led to its closure weeks ago.
In a joint statement, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director, Mr. Sam Mwandha alongside Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR) Managing Director, Capt. Charles Joseph Roy said tourist can now visit the 33 rhinos at the sanctuary located in the central Ugandan district of Nakasongola.
“The fee structure for tourism activities at the sanctuary has been maintained as it was prior to the closure,” read part of the joint statement.
UWA closed the sanctuary to tourism on April 20, 2021 due to irreconcilable differences between Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) and the management of ZRWR, owners of the land on which Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located. In exercise of UWA’s mandate of protecting wildlife resources in Uganda as per the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, UWA took over the rhino management from RFU.
Speaking to Africa Tembelea, UWA’s Communications Manager, Hangi Bashir, revealed how the UWA and ZRWR agreed to jointly manage the sanctuary after the departure of Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), the NGO that was managing the rhinos.
He also noted that the two parties are in the process of negotiating a cooperation agreement that will promote rhino breeding and management of tourism operations at the sanctuary.
According to Capt. Roy, ZRWR is committed to availing land for the breeding programme and putting in place sound management systems by developing and implementing a management plan for the sanctuary.
Mr Mwandha revealed how the UWA and ZRWR will coordinate and jointly deploy staff at the sanctuary with UWA taking up the central role of rhino security and monitoring. He also said that UWA will continue to provide veterinary services to the rhinos as has been the case since the rhinos were introduced into the country.
“We assure the public that the sanctuary will continue to be a Centre of excellence in rhino breeding,” he said, adding that both UWA and ZRWR will continue to engage and work closely with the neighboring communities, Nakasongola district local government and partners in delivering the objectives of rhino breeding at the sanctuary.
With Ziwa almost reaching its maximum carrying capacity, the UWA Executive Director said there were ongoing studies on how the rhinos will eventually be translocated to the country’s national parks where there is more space.