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Prof Kamuntu appeals to the communities to support efforts of fighting illegal activities in protected areas

Minister of Tourism, Ephraim Kamuntu (2nd R) and UWA’s Sam Mwandha (C) handing a dummy cheque to district officials. (PHOTO/PML Daily)

KANUNGU – Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) disbursed cheques worth UGX 4.4Bn under the revenue sharing scheme to communities surrounding Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area

The funds were handed over by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu to the district leaders of Kisoro, Kanungu, and Rubanda at the Bwindi Conservation Area head office in Buhoma.

While handing over the cheques, Prof. Kamuntu noted that the government appreciates the contribution of communities neighboring protected areas in the conservation of wildlife in Uganda. Prof Kamuntu appealed to the communities and leaders to support efforts of fighting illegal activities in protected areas.

“We are giving this money in recognition of the important role that communities play in our conservation efforts; we believe that we cannot effectively conserve wildlife without the support of the communities. I want to use this opportunity to thank you all for rallying behind UWA in conserving the two gorilla parks. It is my humble appeal to you that you continue with this support to conservation and ensure that all forms of illegal wildlife activities are eliminated” he said.

Minister further gave assurances that Uganda is safe for visitors and warned that anyone who tries to endanger tourists who come to Uganda will be dealt with according to the law.

He said that the money disbursed under the revenue sharing scheme keeps on increasing because of the ever-increasing number of tourists who visit the parks to track gorillas and urged them to work closely with the park management by ensuring those wrong elements do not infiltrate to parks so that visitor numbers keep on increasing.

The UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandha described the event as historic and in line with UWA’s mission which emphasizes, among others, benefits to the community from wildlife conservation.

“Today is a very historic moment when we celebrate another important milestone in our effort for sustainable wildlife conservation. In line with the UWA mission, I am pleased with the release yet another sum of these funds which include 20% park entry fees and $10 per gorilla tracking permit sold in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, this money will improve the livelihoods of communities and alleviate poverty” said Mr. Mwandha.

He called for adequate monitoring of the fund so that they are put to good use. The funds will finance a total of 76 projects: 17 in Kisoro, 24 in Rubanda and 35 projects in Kanungu. Unlike in previous years, this disbursement will finance four community camp sites (In Bujengwe, Mpungu, Ruhija Sub County and Karangara) plus one community Resource Centre in Mukono Parish, Kayonza Sub County.

Once completed, the community tourism campsites will generate more revenue from the increasing tourism business to the community.

This will be an additional benefit from Bwindi Impenetrable National Park besides several other benefits which the neighbouring community is already deriving from the park.

On behalf of the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), the Rubanda RDC Peter Rwakifari observed that wildlife provides sustainable income to communities saying that they will continue to ensure its conservation.

The District Chairperson Kanungu Canon Josephine Kasya spoke on behalf of district Chairpersons and pledged to ensure timely accountability of funds disbursed to districts.

The Chief Administrative Officer Kisoro Mr. Kasule Sulaiman said that the technical leaders will ensure that projects are implemented as planned. “We will ensure proper implementation of all projects so that our communities improve on their livelihoods” he said

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