President Museveni said that Uganda has the potential to earn more from the tourism sector if more effort is put into marketing and promotion of the country’s tourism potential. In Nwoya district, the president spoke about the passing out ceremony for game rangers who included 393 men and 97 women at Murchison Falls Training ground and also restated the need to have clear rules of engagement when dealing with poachers if the country’s precious wildlife was to be protected.
These rangers are mainly aged between 22 – 30 and will be deployed in different conservation areas to beef up the already existing force in the field. President Museveni also congratulated the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for building manpower to protect the parks and also congratulated the graduates.
He also added on that lawlessness in the parks has been going down for the last 5 years, which has made the number of animals in the park to go up, especially the elephants. The President also said there’s need to work on the roads in all the parks. He called on the management to have a master plan and he will look for money for it.
Museveni advised UWA to construct airport or aerodrome near the park to ease the transport for the tourists therefore avoiding the hustle of traffic jam from Kampala to travel to the parks. He also said electric fence can be put in place and some plants that the animals don’t like, like red pepper should be planted to avoid the animals from straying into community land. Museveni said that red pepper can also be commercially profitable.
The president has also instructed Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to introduce scanners at all the borders where vehicles pass to detect animal products being smuggled. “We need to strengthen the law so that if you go to the park, we put you in jail for long years instead of killing you.”
The ceremony was witnessed by State Minister for Tourism is Godfrey Kiwanda, UWA Board of Trustees, NRM deputy Secretary General Richard Todwong, the fourth division commander, district leaders from Buliisa, Masindi, Kiryandongo, Pakwach, Oyam and Nwoya among others.
The four months training conducted by UWA in conjunction with UPDF’s fourth division Gulu, came after a similar one in 2005 involving 200 rangers and 400 UPDF men seconded to UWA under Special Wildlife Integrated Force for Tourism (SWIFT).
President Museveni handed over a cheque of sh1.9b as parts of revenue sharing disbursement, the 20% of gates collection to 6 neighbouring district bordering Murchison falls conservation area for the 2018/2019 financial year. Buliisa district got sh635.4m, Kiryandongo sh211m, Pakwach sh353m, Masindi sh141.2m, Oyam 176.5m and Nwoya 458.9m.
The Executive Director of UWA, Samuel John Mwandha said the recruitment of new staff was a priority set by the new Board of Trustees. He said workforce of UWA is comprise of young Ugandans to serve tourism industry better.
In 20 years, UWA have lost 45 rangers killed by poachers and others in accident said Mwandha. He raised concern that human population has increasingly encroached on conservation areas. Mwandha lamented that the issue of poaching is now being pushed by international syndicates, mainly operating out of South East Asia, that are bank rolling the wanton slaughter of our wildlife, especially elephants.