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Animal Numbers on the Decline as Lions, Ostriches and Zebras Face Extinction

A recent audit of the wildlife populations in Uganda’s game parks reveals a worrying trend of declining animal numbers. Some species such as lions, zebras and ostriches are in such decline raising fears of possible extinction.

“The population of some wild animals is declining”, said the Auditor General. “Mostly affected are the lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park, whose population has reduced by 81%, followed by ostriches (79%), Zebras (74%), and Uganda Kobs (69%), among others”

This worrying trend of deteriorating animal numbers has been partially attributed to illegal human activities within the protected areas such as increased encroachment, illegal harvesting and poaching. For instance East Madi Wildlife Reserve and the Mountain Elgon National Park have been heavily encroached. It is also estimated that Uganda loses about three elephants to poaching every year but last year alone saw a whooping 25 elephants killed by poachers.

“Some species such as the black and white rhino, Derbys and Oryx have since become extinct in Uganda.” Mr. Muwanga said.

The Roan and Bridget’s gazelle are some of the wild animals listed as endangered, with low populations since the last count in 1998. “These species, both combined, are less than 110 in number,” he said.

The latest findings by the Auditor General show that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a statutory body mandated to protect flora and fauna across the country, is failing in the task of preserving the remnant of the country’s endangered species.

However the UWA executive director Andrew Sseguya blamed inadequate funding from government for UWA’s inefficiency. He reasoned that there was need for government to increase funding to UWA and also create a wildlife research body, independent of UWA to compliment and support the functions of UWA, as it is with other countries.

UWA requires about 3,300 rangers to adequately cover the entire wildlife estate in the country but at the moment has about 1,200. “UWA is currently overwhelmed by other wildlife management issues resulting in limited concentration on research as a function of management,” Dr Sseguya. “The Wildlife Protection policy under review has already identified this need and is providing for the creating of a Uganda Wildlife Research and Training Institute to address the wildlife research and training gaps in the sector”

Tourism contributes approximately 5.7 per cent of Uganda’s national GDP per annum and is expected to rise by 5.9 per cent per annum from Shs3.3 trillion, which is 7.6 per cent of GDP this year, to Shs5.8 trillion and 7.4 per cent GDP contribution by 2021.

Uganda Safaris Desk

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