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UWA seeks additional land for rhino conservation

Madi Okollo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA is considering acquiring additional land for the expansion of Ajai Wildlife Reserve in Madi Okollo district to boost Rhino conservation.

This comes a few days after UWA announced plans to reintroduce the White Rhinos to Ajai Wildlife Reserve. The proposed additional 26.58 square kilometers of land is located on the south of the wildlife reserve next to Pawor Seed Secondary School.

The land is currently occupied by the Lali community and other neighboring communities. John Makombo, the Director in Charge of Conservation at Uganda Wildlife Authority explains that the need for additional land at the wildlife reserve is a recommendation of their rhino habitat feasibility study that found out that the current state of the reserve cannot support substantial rhino breeding.

According to Makombo, the rhino extinction in Ajai Wildlife Reserve, coupled with pressure from poaching by community members changed the savannah ecosystem of the wildlife habitat. He, however, says that the acquisition of additional land from the community for Rhino conservation is subject to negotiations and compensation to the community landowners.

Patrick Atiku, the Ogoko sub-county LCV councilor, says UWA should first compensate 11 households who are settled inside Ajai Wildlife before embarking on the acquisition of additional land.

Siraj Ondoga, the Rhino camp town council LCV councilor notes that there is a need for community sensitization since most of the locals are proposing gazettement of the wildlife reserve.

Joanne Aniku, the Madi-Okolo Woman MP has advised UWA to move cautiously in their bid to acquire additional land for rhino conservation since there is still a lot of apprehension about the past acquisition of land at Ajai Wildlife Reserve.

Currently, Ajai Wildlife Reserve spans 166 square kilometers. Before the Wildlife Reserve was gazetted in 1965, it was home to 60 of Uganda’s 80 remaining white rhinos.

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