Madi Okollo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has announced plans of reintroducing White Rhinos to Ajai Wildlife Reserve in Madi Okollo district. This follows a feasibility study by the Uganda Wildlife Authority in 2020 that confirmed Ajai Wildlife Reserve as one of the best Rhino habitats in Uganda.
John Makombo, the Director in Charge of Conservation at Uganda Wildlife Authority, said that the reintroduction is part of the biodiversity enhancement program for Uganda, which seeks to among others promote tourism in the West Nile region.
He further noted that they will not only introduce the White Rhinos but also other animal species like Zebra, and giraffe among others.
The re-introduction of the rhino back to Ajai Wildlife Reserve has been a long-standing demand by the people of West Nile due to the prominence of Rhinos to the people in the sub-region. For instance, Rhino Camp, which is home to hundreds of refugees, and the defiant white Rhino hotel in Arua city are named after the white rhino.
Isaac Etuka, the Upper Madi member of parliament explains that the reintroduction of the White rhinos will greatly boost the tourism potential of the district and the entire West Nile sub region.
Ronald Afidra, the Lower Madi County member of parliament, says that the return of the White rhinos will ensure equity of tourism in the country since for a long time the West Nile region has been neglected.
The area Woman member of parliament, Joanne Aniku, says that the re-introduction of White rhinos is long overdue owing to the strong cultural attachments the people have for the Rhinos.
She also says that re-introducing the rhinos will equally enhance the understanding of rhino conservation in the West Nile community, especially in Madi Okollo district
In the past, Rhino tourism at Ajai Wildlife Reserve in the West Nile sub-region was a popular activity during the 1970s but due to insecurity between the 1970s to 1980s, the white rhinos got extinct.
Since 2006, the Government through Uganda Wildlife Authority has been running breeding programs at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola District to multiply the original stock of 6 Southern White Rhinos that were left.
The Rhino population at the sanctuary has increased to 35.