KARENGA – The Ateker Safaris, a wildlife conservation company has disbursed Shs354,553,787 from sport hunting to communities.
The sub-counties neighbouring reserves where sport hunting takes place in the district Local Governments of Kotido, Moroto, Kaabong, Abim [Karamoja], Agago, Kitgum [Acholi], the community Wildlife Association of Matheniko-Bokora Wildlife Reserve, Iriiri Community Wildlife Management area and Karenga community wildlife management area received the cheques as a share of the revenue from sport hunting.
Ateker Safaris Limited incorporated in 2008, became a member of Uganda Wildlife Safaris in January 2015 and has been involved in sport hunting under partnership signed on June 2, 2009, with Uganda Wildlife Authority and Local governments of Karamoja and Acholi sub-regions.
Sport hunting is hunting of wild game for human recreation and only parts of the animal are kept as trophies (usually the head, skin, horns or antlers) and the carcass itself is used for food.
According to the executive director Ateker Safaris Ltd Mr Christian Weith, their aim is to promote wildlife conservation and sustainable utilization through improved wildlife protection, capacity building, ecological research, marketing and promotion, revenue generation and sharing.
“We conserve wildlife through sustainable management operating under a revenue-sharing scheme which benefits all stakeholders in all our concessions,” said Mr Weith.
Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, the minister of tourism and antiquities while handing over the cheques at Karenga district local government headquarters 5 December said the money was a mandatory token of appreciation with the neighbouring communities and local governments as prescribed in law.
According to Prof Kamuntu, the money will be used to finance the implementation of conservation projects identified in the sub-counties of the district where sport hunting takes place.
Quoting from the Bible in the book of Genesis; Prof Kamuntu said man was created as a steward of creation, not to extinct creation but to protect it and “ I want to add that those who destroy wildlife by poaching it will go Hell,”
“This money is from revenue collected from conservation, let us conserve our wildlife in order to keep getting money from sport hunting, and let this money purposely go to those sub-counties where sport hunting takes place and let the revenue go to activities geared towards conservation,” said Prof Kamuntu.
According to a letter signed by the executive director Mr Sam Mwanda, asked the local governments to regularly monitor implementation of the projects where the money is going to be invested to update Eteker Safaris Ltd and UWA on the progress.
“Engagement and mobilization of the district and sub-county leadership are of paramount importance in ensuring effective monitoring of project implementation and value for money,” said Mr Mwanda.
Mr Amuza Welishe, the operations manager at Eteker Safaris Ltd said some of the benefits of revenue sharing include upgrading of gravel roads in the surrounding areas, construction of classrooms and staff quarters, construction of health units, boreholes.
He added that the other community benefit-sharing programmes related to the protected areas and wildlife management around the park include controlled poaching, and water access during the dry season and firewood collecting.
He said since 2009, it is evident that the collaboration from communities, Local leaders, UWA, and Ateker Safaris has yielded relatively big success because the revenue generation rate has increased year after year; the animal population has increased year after year as witnessed by results from a number animal Censuses carried out by UWA.
“We have generated over Shs 1 billion and the revenue has been used in funding different community-based projects identified from within the community by Community wildlife Association with guidance form district local governments of partner districts and we currently employ more than one hundred fifty Ugandans,” said Mr Welishe.
The LCV chairman Karenga district Mr Felix Lochale urged the sub-counties leaders to ensure that the projects are expeditiously implemented to create desired impact and enlist community support for wildlife conservation.