KAMPALA, Uganda-The new Executive Director Uganda wild life Authority (UWA) has announced that UWA is to recruit about 500 new personnel to beef up the force to address not only poaching but human-wildlife conflict in protected areas.
Sam Mwandha, UWA Executive Director told Journalists that there’s need for the agency to have enough rangers in all national parks to reduce on the tendencies of poaching and encroaching on national parks.
“As UWA this year, we shall recruit about 500 rangers to fill in the man power gaps at the Authority. Some of our staff retired while others died. This created a big gap at the Authority thus exposing the national parks to encroachers and poachers,” Mwandha told Journalist.
Mwandha told Journalist that four suspects linked to the recent death of lions at the Queen Elizabeth National park have been identified and have made statements at Katwe police station (Kasese) but they were later released on police bond as they wait police to conclude investigations.
“Our security team managed to arrest four people in connection to the death of 11 lions. The suspects were found with some chemicals which are suspected to be poison. Currently we are working with the national analytical laboratory to carry out laboratory tests to confirm whether the poison the suspects were found with is the one used to poison the big cats” He explained.
He added that they have heavily deployed and rangers are stationed in the area full time to address similar challenges.
The UWA top management refuted allegations that the population of Uganda’s lions has gone down and that as a consequence, this will affects the tourism sector in the country.
Stephen Masaba the Director of Tourism at UWA said the country has good number of big cats.
“The incident that happened in Queen Elizabeth should not cause alarm because currently there’re about 130 lions in the national park and about 270 lions in other national parks such as Kidepo Valley National park and Murchison Falls National park” He explained.
On 11 April 2018, news broke about the death of 11 lions in Queen Elizabeth National park but according to UWA, the big cats were poisoned by suspected community members near Hamukungu fishing ground in the National park. The Community blames the wild animals for Killing their livestocks especially cows and goats, yet it is reported that the local people feel they are not directly benefiting from the revenues generated from national parks.
However UWA says that the communities are also benefiting from the revenue the national parks generates. According to the Executive Director, Mwndha UWA shares, the revenue with the communities that are surrounding the National parks.
“Every year UWA shares the revenue with the communities through their districts because the Law on revenue sharing from National parks recognizes Local Government, s not Individuals but we shall continue working with the local communities to ensure that they value world Life” He said.
Masaba advised communities always to come to come up with projects that they need to be finaced by UWA Funds if they to benefit from the UWA revenue.