Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has received funds worth USD 100,000 from Pilgrim Africa to support rangers in Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area for a period of 10 months. The funds will be used to support the ranger’s allowances and operational activities of the conservation area in order to carry out routine patrols as well as monitor the health of the gorillas. The Cheque was handed over to Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director (ED) Sam Mwandha by the Board Chairman Pilgrim Africa Dr. Ben Khingi and Patron Lt. Gen Charles Angina at UWA Head Office on 17th July 2020.
While receiving the cheque, UWA ED Sam Mwandha thanked Pilgrim Africa for donating the money for the good of conservation of wildlife. He said that UWA is now witnessing a reduction of poaching activities. Bwindi Mgahinga is a key conservation area because it generates more than half the total revenue Uganda Wildlife Authority gets from all national parks and therefore needs adequate protection as a high priority zone.
Dr. Khingi observed that national parks were a great economic asset to the country and that it is critical to protect them for the generations to come. “We are aware the halt to tourism income caused by COVID 19 has pushed many people who depend on tourism into poaching the very animals the industry depends on. Statistics indicate that cases of poaching in February and May did more than doubled this year compared to the previous year of 2019,” he observed. “When we learnt that UWA is ensuring rangers spend more time with gorillas to lessen the chance that they could wander off and be poached, Pilgrim Africa was greatly motivated to get involved,” Dr. Khingi said.
Lt. Gen Charles Angina thanked UWA for the management of national parks. He acknowledged the serious damage COVID 19 has had on Uganda’s tourism and noted the challenges that conservation grapples with given the reduction in resources for operational activities. He retaliated that Pilgrim Africa seeks to make a difference through assisting wildlife management because wildlife is the oxygen that drives tourism and could not be ignored. “This industry that comes with wildlife has great potential and therefore needs to be supported, there is no doubt wildlife is the oxygen of Uganda’s tourism” he noted. He thanked the president for developing security in wildlife management and building the capacity of UWA which now exhibits a lot of professionalism. “The President has been at the heart of ensuring wildlife is protected in the country. Poaching many years back was the norm with wildlife numbers very low. Thanks to the effort of empowerment of parks by the president, Uganda has conserved numerous animals now,” he said.
He said that Operation Wealth Creation is now partnering with tourism to work with communities to upgrade livelihood of the rural communities. Such initiatives including having families have clean water, clean toilets and benefit more from wildlife protection bolsters economic growth of the country. He called for tough sentences for poachers and said that anyone found planning to engage in any illegal activity should be punished so that they lose the appetite to poach.
Pilgrim Africa is a local NGO established in Uganda that has made interventions in education and health sectors for almost two decades. It begun as a conservation entity but its program focus was later shifted to health, education and emergency response as a result of numerous disaster situations like floods that happened in Teso region in early 2000s.
The handover ceremony was attended by UWA’s Director Tourism Business Development Stephen Masaba, Chief Warden Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area Guma Nelson while the team from Pilgrim Africa included the Country Coordinator, Pilgrim Africa Ms. Angella Amuron and Ms. Clare Ogullei