By Frank Semata, EABW
Uganda will join the rest of the world to celebrate United Nations’ World Wildlife Day on 3rd March 2020 at Ssaza Grounds in Kisoro Municipality, Kisoro District in the Kigezi region.
It will be highlighted by the recognition awards for people who have contributed significantly to wildlife conservation in Uganda.
On 20th December 2013, the 68th 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. Major events set before and during the world wildlife day will include the annual wildlife marathon starting at Uganda Museum.
The marathon will have 5km, 10km, 21km and 42km categories all ending at the Museum. The Chief Guest at the marathon is expected to be Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
A conservation conference on wildlife conservation. The Conference will bring together conservation practitioners, the private sector, policymakers and all stakeholders. The Rt. Hon Prime Minister is expected as Chief Guest at the National Conservation Conference.
Wildlife Conservation competitions involving quiz, debates, music dance and drama will be held to raise awareness about conservation issues among the youth. Tertiary institutions competitions will be held at Uganda Christian University Mukono, Secondary Schools competitions at Sesame Girls Secondary School, Kisoro and Primary Schools competitions will be held at Mutolere Primary School Kisoro, District
The national Wildlife Day will run under the theme “Sustaining Wildlife for the benefit of the present and future generations”. H.E the President of the Republic of Uganda is expected to be the Chief Guest.
The Minister of State for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda while addressing the media highlighted on the reason for the choice of the theme. He said the theme of the day is timely and reminds them of the need to ensure peaceful coexistence between wildlife and people for the benefit of present and future generations.
“Government, working with all our stakeholders has undertaken several initiatives towards realizing harmonious living between wildlife and people,” said Kiwanda.
Uganda Wildlife Act 2019 was enacted and the President signed it into law on 1st July 2019. The Act came into force on 27th September 2019. The Wildlife Act 2019 strengthens penalties against wildlife offenders, enhances community participation in wildlife conservation, and provides for compensation for damage to property, injury and loss of life.
Kiwanda said that they are now formulating regulations to fully operationalize the law.
Sharing of Protected Area revenues (20%) with adjacent communities. A total of 15,390,345,544/=) has been shared with communities in the last three years.
Wildlife utilization programme has generated revenue for different stakeholders over the last three years, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), US$ 1,195,312, Local Communities US$ 1,639,847 and US$ 259,447 for District Local Governments.
Kiwanda said, to address human-wildlife conflicts;
· A total of 50.9 new kilometres of elephant deterrent trenches were excavated in Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park and Kibaale National Park. 161.1km of the existing 237km elephant trenches were maintained.
· In order to further scare away elephants, a total of 1,435 beehives were procured and installed in Kibaale (200), Queen Elizabeth (174), Kidepo Valley (250) and Bwindi Conservation Areas (811).
· 10 km of Electric fence was constructed in Kyambura Wildlife reserve in Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area
· A hippo deterrent demonstration fence covering 0.7 km was constructed on the shores of Lake Kyamwiga in Rubirizi district.
· Mauritius live fences (192.5km), chilli cakes, scare shooting, buffer crops like tea to prevent human-wildlife conflicts were also implemented.
There has been an enhanced Inter-Agency collaboration and coordination by establishing a National Wildlife Crime Coordination Task Force which brings together all key law enforcement agencies in Uganda to combat wildlife crime along the entire crime chain, building an adequate capacity to combat poaching, illegal wildlife trade and trafficking.
In an effort to eradicate invasive and exotic species, a total area of 1,213 hectares with invasive/exotics was rehabilitated by uprooting, selectively cutting and debarking in the 6 Protected Areas of QENP, KNP, MGNP, SNP, KVNP, LMNP and Katonga WR. Management of invasive especially Dichrostachys Cinerea is being undertaken in QENP and Lantana Camara in KWR.
As a strategy to ensure the conservation of all species and diversification for tourism experiences across the country, the UWA strengthened the animal translocation program in various Protected Areas.