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Ugandan cheetah, spotted hyena face extinction

Spotted hyena. PHOTO via UWA

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The cheetah of Kidepo Valley National Park, Pian Upe Game Reserve and Matheniko-Bokora Wildlife Reserve is critically threatened, according to a new red list of critically endangered species released by the Ministry of Tourism.

The same list also names the spotted Hyena of Queen Elizabeth, Murchison Falls, Lake Mburo and Kidepo Valley National Parks, among the species that need immediate protection to prevent their extinction.

The list shows that 77 Mammals, 99 plants, 184 butterflies, 44 dragonflies, 83 birds, 31 reptiles and 19 amphibians are nationally threatened species of biodiversity in Uganda. Of these, species sitting in the threatened categories include 110 species critically endangered, 174 endangered and 253 vulnerable.

Also on the list is the African elephants of Murchison Falls, Queen Elizabeth, Kibaale, Kidepo Valley, Bwindi Impenetrable, Semliki National Park, and Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve have also been listed as critically endangered.

Tourism Minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu says species are disappearing due to pressures on natural resources, increase in human population and loss of habitats amongest others.

“Previously intact habitats both protected and on private land have been converted, cleared or degraded leading to a decline in species population and diversity,” Kamuntu said. He also expressed fear that the effects of climate change, which are hard to forecast in terms of pace and pattern are likely to accelerate extinctions.

Also listed as critically endangered are Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls, Kidepo Valley National Park and very small numbers in Toro-Semliki Wildlife Reserve. The King of the Jungle, one of the critically endangered species in the world, is mainly threatened by killings by the local community, road accidents, habitat loss and disease.

A 2016, study estimated the value of a lion in Uganda to be USD 14,000 with just 420 members surviving.  The entire population of lions in Lake Mburo National Park was wiped out close to 20 years ago, due to poisonings by locals. However, only a handful have reportedly migrated into the park from neighbouring countries.

According to the list, the 184 threatened species of butterflies is primarily due to the rapid rate of loss of forests outside of the Central Forest Reserves, majority of which are located in Western Uganda and to the restricted habitat range of many of these forest-dependent species.

“At particular risk are the butterflies of the Ssese Island and Sango Bay Forests. The 235 data deficient butterfly species illustrates how little has been done to date to understand the status of butterflies, a tricky taxon to survey due to their seasonal appearance and restricted ranges,” he explains.

The Red Lists were compiled with technical input from Wildlife Conservation Society, Makerere University, the National Forestry Authority, Uganda Wildlife Authority, the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute, Nature Uganda and other experts with knowledge of the species considered.

“This evaluation was done to offer a quick internationally recognized guide to the threat status of species in Uganda and intended for use by the Government of Uganda, Environmental professionals, developers, conservation organizations and the academia” the Ministry adds in the 110 – pages booklet published last week.

The work was supported by Tullow Uganda Operations Limited (TUOP) and the process strictly followed the International Union for Conservation of Nature guidelines for Red Listing at the regional and national level (IUCN 2012a).

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