Poaching and Its Impacts on Uganda Tourism

It’s illegal hunting of wild animals and birds. Uganda’s government through the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Tourism Board, and the entire ministry of Tourism and antiquities strongly condemn the act. Yes, it’s true, poaching activities steals from all of Ugandans and should highly be condemned by all government organizations, private sectors, private individuals, international organizations, and all well-wishers of the Uganda Tourism sector.

How is poaching planned?

Poachers set traps that capture both eatable and none eatable animals and birds. Alternatively, they can physically enter game reserves and do hunting using traditional weapons like spears, nets, pangs, knives with the help of pet domesticated animals like dogs among others. Poachers do illegal hunting for meat (food), sell products like elephants’ horns, Rhinos horns, animals’ skins, and hair among others.

Areas affected by Poaching in Uganda

The areas affected by poaching activities in Uganda include Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, home to the mountain gorillas. It’s believed that the Batwa pygmies of western Uganda (Forest keepers) are championing the killing of Mountain Gorillas by setting traps. Mountain Gorillas are known to be the chief tourist attraction in Uganda and earns the country huge amounts of foreign exchange. The Batwa not only killing Gorillas but also kill other forest animals, birds and destroy vegetation as they clear forests for settlement and agricultural purposes.

The Batwa stay within or near the forests of Bwindi but Uganda government through Uganda Wildlife Authority is trying to resettle them to places in order to safeguard wildlife. Queen Elizabeth National park is frequently attacked by poachers both armed and unarmed ones. Last year (2019), more than ten lions were poisoned by the residents staying near the park as they claimed that lions were eating their domesticated animals. They also claim that lions were scaring their lives!! The catastrophic killing of lions in Queen Elizabeth National park was following by a number of arrests spearheaded by Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPF), Uganda Tourism Police (UTP), and Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The park also protects elephants whose horns are on high demand internationally. The elephants are killed, antelopes are hunted and buffaloes among others. The act scares the Uganda tourism sector. Another incident in Queen Elizabeth national park is the killing of animals through accidents as they try to cross Kasese road from one side to another. Great thanks to Uganda Wildlife Authority to working day and night to control such habits by employing 24hrs patrol through the park. Mountain Elgon National park lost a ranger last year! May his soul rest in

eternal peace. The poachers shot a ranger in a battle when the ranger guide was trying to arrest poachers. Mountain Elgon National Park is famously known for protecting Mt. Elgon with the largest Caldera in Uganda. The major activities in the park include Mountaineering, Birding, nature tours, cultural tours, and so on. Kidepo Valley National Park is also among the affected areas because of its location. The park is located far north Eastern Uganda boarded by Kenya and South Sudan.

Rangers enter Uganda from the neighbouring countries and cause arm, if not killing animals. Great thanks to Uganda wildlife Authority for the current heavy deployment in Kidepo Valley National Park. Other affected areas include Semuliki Valley National Park, Toro- Semuliki game reserve, Katonga game reserve, Lwera wildlife reserve along Masaka- Mbarara high way, Murchison Falls National Park among others.

Effects of poaching in Uganda

The country is losing much revenue from the killed animals and birds which would have been tourist attractions. Imagine, killing a gorilla that earns the country US$700 per day from gorilla trekking in Uganda! Uganda lost the black Rhino and a few white Rhinos are jealously guarded at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary situated in Nakasongola District along Kampala- Gulu highway, and all these affect safaris in Uganda.

The rangers lose lives! Because some poachers are well trained and heavily armed especially those from neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan among others. Some wild animals and birds vacate the country to look for safer areas. Uganda has lost a number of unique attractions like antelopes, elephants to mention but a few. Poaching has not only affected wild animals and birds but also vegetation.

In the process of catching animals, they clear bushes set fires that prolong to destroy their habitats. The government injects much revenue to control the habit through deployments, regular patrols, buying guns among others- in other words, the whole process of controlling poaching is expensive. Incidentally, some tourists are kidnapped if not killed! SAD! Because the habits paint the image of the country black. Last year (2019), an American female tourist together with her tour guide were kidnapped by unknown goons while on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

But later released after paying a ransom!! Great thanks to Uganda’s security agencies who worked tooth and nail to secure lives. Uganda is among the world’s safest tour destinations but still facing some challenges resulting from illegal hunting of its wild animals and birds among others. On the other hand, the Ministry of Tourism and antiquities vows of end any poaching in Uganda through the following ways: Heavy deployment in game reserves and nearby areas – More trained security persons have been tasked to safeguard wildlife reserves in Uganda.

All guests are escorted by armed rangers while doing tour activities like primate poaching, game drives birding and boat trips among others. The Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) is safeguarding all border posts to prevent illegal entering of foreigners. In addition, people crossing from boarders are thoroughly searched to ensure nobody enters Uganda with a firearm.

Mass education is conducted in areas around the Uganda National parks. The aim is to sensitize masses about the importance of preserving wildlife and the benefits of tourism in their area. Uganda Wildlife Authority has a motto that states the “Preserve for the generations”. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is sharing part of the revenue from tourism with the local communities in terms of better services like schools, better health centre, and better roads among others.