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Uganda Wildlife Authority chokes on dwindling funds

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) has decried dwindling operational funds during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Bashir Hangi, the UWA communications manager says they will soon need a boost if the COVID-19 pandemic is to continue since it is operating on dwindling savings of about 60 billion Uganda shillings that can only run UWA for less than one year.

UWA is losing an average of UGX 7 billion (two million dollars) per month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Hangi says UWA gets funds from collections, donations and subventions, not the consolidated fund and therefore some of the departments like tourism have been suffocated due to lack of cash inflow to allow for protection of wildlife, operations and monitoring of wildlife species.

He says UWA has to continue paying salary, food, medicines for animals and human resources and uniforms, fuel, vehicle maintenance. Some of the officers Uganda Radio Network – URN talked to at various tourism attraction centres and national parks in Uganda had mixed reactions.

Potius Ezuma, the in-charge officer at Queen Elizabeth National park says the COVID-19 lockdown has empowered the law enforcement department even without tourists coming. He says this has increased in the protection of the park, wildlife against anti poaching activities. Out of the 383 staff, 350 are working on law enforcement while 33 none permanent staff were laid off.

Edward Asalu, the in-charge officer at Kibaale National Park says despite no cash flow, the COVID -19 lockdown has created alternative jobs to staff at the park. Many of them have been turned into Chimpanzee trackers, caretakers and patrolers.

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