KAMPALA – Uganda’s Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities Ephraim Kamuntu has said African countries should focus more on Biodiversity conservation because of its critical role in generating income.
“Uganda is great example we are depending of Biodiversity to promote Tourism, our Tourism sector is wildlife based and through Tourism, the sector is contributing about 9% of the country’s GDP with tourism being the number one foreign exchange earner for Uganda. That’s how serious conservation business is to our country,” he said.
Prof. Kamuntu said this while officiating at the opening of the 16th African Wildlife Consultative Forum at the Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday.
He also called upon African governments to strengthen the Legal regulations to protect Wildlife and other natural species for the good of nature.
“I call up on governments and partners in conservation to strengthened collaboration and cooperation especially in sharing intelligence, capacity building and also strengthening Laws and cross border law enforcement this will drastically help in combating illegal wildlife trade which is becoming booming business in most countries,” he advised.
The forum attracted over 70 participants from various African states as well as global and regional wildlife conservation agencies.
The objective of the forum was to share conservation best practices that can be adopted to mitigate the increasing incidences of poaching wild life which has negative Impact on the development of the tourism sector on the African continent.
The 16th conservation conference comes at a time when wildlife conservation in Africa is at crossroads. Africa has made achievements in conservation but a lot remains to be done. Minister Kamuntu said the government of Uganda is committed to ensuring that the country’s nature is protected.
Among the key interventions government is implementing is the strengthening of law enforcement through recruiting, training and equipping game rangers and tourism police who work together to ensure safety and security of Wildlife and tourism resources.
He added that Uganda has established a specialized wildlife court to expeditiously try all wildlife trafficking cases effectively. Kamuntu told the participants that since the court was established three years ago, they have registered an improvement the conviction rate from less than 50% to over 90% for all wildlife crimes cases.
Dr. Christopher Comer, the Executive Director Safari Club International Foundation, the organizer of the forum asked African governments to ensure that animal to human conflict in most national parks is mitigated because the conflict has resulted into death for both wild and human lives.
“Sometimes, the conflict comes as result of weak enforcing of the conservation regulations or failure by the public to understand the economic potential associated with conservation. The general public should be sensitized about the benefits which can accrue from conservation; that is when they will appreciate it,” he said.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO