President of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has assented to the Uganda Wildlife Bill 2017, effectively making the Uganda Wildlife Act law.
The main objective of the Act is to provide for the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife and to streamline roles and responsibilities for institutions in wildlife conservation and management in Uganda.
According to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Communications Officer Bashir Hangi, the new law spells out significant reform packages that will transform wildlife conservation and management in Uganda.
“The bill that was enacted by Parliament in 2017, has been signed by the Head of State as required by Constitution into law and with this new development, we shall see more new developments being carried out and implemented by Uganda Wildlife Authority” said Bashir Hangi.
Among the reforms to be introduced are that communities living at the periphery of Uganda National Parks will get a right to compensation of any damage to their property or lives that is induced by wild animals outside the Protected Areas.
Previously, Wildlife induced damages outside the Protected Area that include loss of life, destruction of crops among others has not been compensated by UWA because it was not provided in the existing laws. This has been a contentious issue between the communities living near national parks and UWA authorities over a long time.
Africa Tembelea has learnt that communities will be sensitized through the Wildlife committees so that they understand the application, implementation and implications of the new Act. This will be done to help guide them so that they do not complain when caught on the other side of the law.
The new law also stipulates the introduction of heavy punishment for anyone found committing crimes involving wildlife endangered species. According to the law, anyone found guilty after committing a crime involving wildlife endangered species will be sentenced to a fine of not less than Ugx 20 billion or get life imprisonment or get both punishments depending on the gravity of the matter.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority Act 2019, also stipulates clearly community participation in Wildlife conservation by strengthening theirs. management capacity through the community wildlife committees for each Protected Area.
Community participation in wildlife management is strengthened through Community Wildlife Committees for each protected area.
Penalties up to life sentences and fines of UGX 20bn or both, have been introduced for wildlife crime involving endangered species.
Revenue-sharing programme reformed into conditional grants to communities.
Commercialization of wildlife on private land is promoted through sustainable utilisation.
Domesticated CITES implementation in Uganda.
Compensation for wildlife-induced damage outside protected areas.
Many tourism players have touted the act signed into law on July 1st, 2019 as a game changer for wildlife conservation in Uganda