City lawyer, Francis Niwagaba is suing Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for alleged incompetence exhibited in the management of Queen Elizabeth National Park that led to the poisoning of 11 lions.
Eleven lions, including eight lion cubs, were early this month found dead near Hamukungu fishing village in Queen Elizabeth National park, a popular tourist destination in Western Uganda.
While reports show that villagers may have killed the lions for attacking one of their cows, Niwagaba says the lions were poisoned inside the National Park an indication that UWA had failed in its responsibility of protecting the endangered species.
Niwagaba wants court to issue orders declaring UWA incompetent.
Article 237(2) (b), of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda states; “The government or a local government as determined by parliament by law shall hold in trust for the people and protect natural lakes, rivers, wetlands, forest reserves, natural parks and any land to be reserved for ecological and touristic purpose for the common good of all citizens.
In fulfillment of this mandate, parliament enacted Uganda Wildlife Act in 1996, for sustainable management of wildlife, to consolidate the law relating to wildlife management to establish a coordinating, monitoring and supervisory body for the purpose and for other matters incidental or connected.
According to Section 3 (1) of the UWA Act, the ownership of every wild animal and wild plant existing in its wild habitat in Uganda is vested in the government on behalf of and for the benefit of the people of Uganda.
“This mandate and duty in the Board which is responsible for the discharge of the business and functions of the Authority. In this regard, the Board shall be the trustee for wildlife and wildlife protected areas in Uganda,” Niwagaba said.
Niwagaba wants court to call UWA to explain to Ugandans circumstances under, which innocent lions in a National Park lost their lives.
Figures from the 7th Annual Tourism Sector Performance Report indicate that tourism continues to be a pillar of Uganda’s economy, contributing nearly Shs7.3b to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the 2015/2016 financial year, translating into 9 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities show tourism revenues soared to Shs 5.1 trillion ($1.4bn) in 2017 when the country attracted over 1.3 million international visitors.
Niwagaba however reveal that if the park continues to be encroached on and the uncontrolled utilization of its resources, Uganda’s revenue is likely to reduce since the endangered species are under threat.