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TOURISM EXPO: Is that a Lion or Leopard?

The zoo section is the most visited area by locals at the ongoing Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo at the Sheraton


Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The zoo section at the ongoing The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) is the most visited area, but the various questions the wildlife wardens face and the discussions that are going on there, explains why officials decided to put more emphasis on the domestic tourism market this year.

“That is a very big leopard,” one woman tells a colleague at the Kampala Sheraton gardens, and is overheard explaining how dangerous it is.  Luckily for them, in jumps another visitor, interrupting the conversation by stating that what they are pointing at is in fact, a lion, not a leopard.

They are then educated that the primary difference between both the animals is that a leopard has black marks on the body, while a lion’s body is completely of fur.

Ugandans should know better than anyone else as the country is well endowed with the big cats. The most common are lions, leopards and cheetahs. Big cats in the country can be seen at Kidepo National Park, Murchision Falls and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

There is however concerns about declining numbers, with wildlife officials saying the number of lions in the country has decreased from 1000 in 1990 to 420 in 2018.

“Uganda is one of the few countries in the world in, which you can find lions, cheaters and leopards. And people come and pay to see these animals but we Ugandans are just killing them,” Ephraim Kamuntu, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities told the press.

The wildlife officer standing at the The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo cages also repeatedly had to explain that what visitors were seeing was not a small leopard, but a serval. The serval is a wild cat, about 12kg, that has a good appetite for chicken.

Other wildlife on display at the expo that concludes on Sunday February 25 are ostriches, parrots, pythons, tortoise, monkeys and the crested crane.

The Uganda Tourism Board organised 4th Pearl of Africa Expo that started at the Sheraton Gardens on Friday and concludes on Sunday, is seen by organisers as an opportunity to spur Ugandan interest in the sector.

“This year, the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo puts more emphasis on the domestic tourism market. If we are to run a sustainable tourism industry, our people must fully participate both as service providers and tourists. That ensures that the full benefits of tourism are felt and enjoyed by all Ugandans,” said tourism minister Kamuntu.

The Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE), an annual tourism event in the East African region organized by the UTB to bring together travel agents, tour operators, hoteliers, destination managers and other service providers in the business, starts with tours across the country and ends with an awards dinner.

Over 50 international trade visitors and hosted buyers are participating. The expo offers a unique opportunity for tourism businesses to meet new clients, network, and market their services and products.


  • Business to business meetings with international hosted buyers.
  • Provide a platform of Business to Business engagements for travel trade regionally, locally and internationally.
  • Exhibitions by travel trade
  • Showcase with special focus the Ugandan product offering from the diverse birdlife to the Big 7, adventure tourism, primates, culture tourism and much more.


  • Fam Trips
  • 3-day exhibition themed ‘Rediscover the Pearl’
  • Cluster Tent themed ‘Tastes of Uganda’
  • Schools corner
  • Children’s play area
  • UWEC Mini zoo
  • Adventure corner; Quad bikes, horse rides etc.

One comment

  1. What Uganda can offer and most Particularly Uganda wildlife Educational Center (Entebbe Zoo)

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