American Tourist is Kidnapped on Safari in Uganda is set Free

Posted by on April 9, 2019

The Nightmare is over – Kimberly Sue Endicott and tour driver Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo are Free

American Tourist is abducted on Safari in Queen Elizabeth Park has been Freed

The nightmare for is over 5-Days Later in Queen Elizabeth Park – Ugandan joint security Police, Army, Park Rangers has liberated Tourist and Driver.  Kidnappers are being pursued in DR Congo.


American Tourist is Kidnapped – There is a light at the end of the tunnel and in this case, it was not a train but freedom. after 5-days on April 7, 2019, the American Tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott along with the  driver for the game drive Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo were released.  They were recovered unharmed along the nearby border with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Ugandan government confirmed that the kidnap victim was actually rescued in the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ugandan border.

The two had been kidnapped at gunpoint by still unidentified individuals who demanded a ransom of 500,000 USD.  Daily telephone negotiations were taking place and by Friday their demand had not changed.  Wild Frontiers Uganda did pay an undisclosed lesser amount for the ransom.  The Ugandan military rescued Kimberly Sue Endicott and her driver while the kidnappers escaped.

For Kimberly Sue Endicott, the first thing upon arriving at Ishasha Wilderness Camp was a hot shower and a decent meal.  She will be flying out of Uganda back to her home in Costa Mesa California in the USA on Monday, April 8, while Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo, (he has been at the Lodge questioned about the kidnapping )the driver may want time with family before returning to taking tourists on Game Drives in Queen Elizabeth Park, Ishasha region.

 The two kidnap victims were released and with the help of Ugandans made their way to the lodge on a Boda-Boda motorcycle Taxi.

The Ugandan Security Forces did what they had to do and thanks should be given to Wild Frontiers for it doing what it could in negotiating there release.

The nightmare ends with the Best Possible Outcome and Uganda remains 99% Safe, Secure and Welcoming, more than you can say for other places in the world.

Several Kidnap suspects have been arrested – they were traced with an electronic Tracking Device placed in the ransom money (a lesser amount than what demanded 30,00 USD).  It is reported that they were arrested in DR Congo by Ugandan Military Crack Commandos. Those arrested were Ugandans, Fish Traders, Ivory Traders and Smugglers (Uganda has little Elephant poaching but is a Transit point). They were not members of a Congolese Militia as was first suggested.

Be sure you visit our Safe Safaris in Uganda Page with helpful tips for an African Safari without nightmares. Always keep up with the latest regarding Safety and Security in Uganda without a spin on our Facebook Page.

How to avoid getting Kidnapped on Safari


What took place on April 2nd, 2019 in the Ishasha Region of Queen Elizabeth Park

American is Kidnapped in the Ishasha region of Queen Elizabeth Park near the border with  the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Kimberly Sue Endecott, a 35- American Citizen from California flew into Entebbe on March 28 and March 29 began her fly-drive Safari the following day with Wild Frontiers Safaris, a very well known luxury Safari Tour Operator.

Kimberly Sue Endicott who is from Costa Mesa, Orange County. California most likely planned her safari in Uganda in detail and what happened on Tuesday evening April 2nd was not on her Safari Itinerary.

Kimberly Sue Endicott was on her final day in Queen Elizabeth Park, she was on a late afternoon game drive before sunset on the Edward Track near Katoke Gate,  the slow-driving vehicle was attacked by unidentified armed men, dressed in some kind of military uniforms who kidnapped Kimberly Sue Endicott and the driver for Wild Frontier Safaris and Exclusive Lodges, of which the Ishasha Wilderness Camp one of. 

American Tourist is Kidnapped – For Kimberly Sue Endicott and her very experienced Safari Driver- Guide,a Congolese national Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo the dream safari ended abruptly as they were both kidnapped by 4 armed men who ambushed them at gunpoint, releasing a Canadian couple, Martin and Barbel Julius who used their Cell-Phone to contact Ishasha Wilderness Camp and the Manager of the Lodge came to their rescue and returned the couple to the lodge and the kidnapping of a tourist and tour guide was reported to the Police and Uganda Wildlife Authority.

The kidnappers used Kimberly Sue Endicott‘s Mobile Phone to contact authorities to demand 500,000 USD, 1.9 Million Ugandan Shillings for the release Kimberly Sue Endicott and Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo her driver. The indication has been from Ugandan Authorities that payment of the ransom is not an option, however, the family of Kimberly Sue Endicott may feel different that in spite the US has a history (at times selective) of not paying ransoms.

Elite Units from the Ugandan Army, the Police, including a crack-unit of the Tourism Police, Uganda Wildlife Authority Ranger have been on the trail of the abductors and abductees.  The porous border with the Congo sealed, the Inspector General the Ugandan Police is on the ground in the Ishasha area overseeing the joint operation since much is at stake.  Uganda Wildlife has Drones that are most likely being used and the military and police have helicopters to locate the kidnappers and their victims. If they have crossed the border into Democratic  Republic of  Congo other issues arise, but in the past hunt and pursue missions into DR Congo have taken place. 

American Tourist is Kidnapped along with her driver-guide, that is the reality.  The safe return of both is the number one priority.  Everything else is secondary.  One must put themselves into the shoes of the kidnap victims, the thoughts, the anguish, the sense of hopelessness going through their minds.  The priority is the safe release and return of the victims.

In the Ugandan Press, there have been all kinds of speculations what this kidnapping will mean to tourism, that should not be the issue now.  The priority is the release of the first Tourist Kidnap Victims ever in Uganda.  How Uganda handles this will determine everything else.

Hard Negotiations are also underway with the kidnappers who insists on the 500,000 USD Ransom


Where the Kidnapping took Place in Uganda

Ishasha Wilderness Camp is in the Southern area of Uganda’s most frequently visited Wildlife Park, often in  conjunction with Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where Gorilla Trekking takes place and Kibale Forest where Chimpanzee Trekking takes place.  Ishasha has fewer visitors than the northern Mweya area of the park.  Ishasha has more of that Wilderness feel to it, something that the Bradt Guide to Uganda points out. It is also the best area in East Africa for seeing Tree Climbing Lions in all of East Africa.  Ishasha is also part of a Wildlife corridor that extends from Virunga National Park in DR Congo to Kibale Forest,

Ishasha is home Tree-Climbing Lions, Elephant herds made up of a growing population (back to 1960’s levels exceeding 3000) Forest and Savannah Elephants, Savannah and Forest Buffaloes, a large population of Topi and Uganda Kob antelopes, Leopards to name a few.  Traditionally there have been fewer tourists in this area than in the north of the park. Elephant poaching here has been at a minimum here.

 Ishasha Wilderness Camp is a high-end luxury Lodge owned and managed by Uganda Exclusive Lodges that is part of Wild Frontiers Safaris.  Their other luxury Lodges are Buhoma Lodge in the Buhoma area of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Baker’s Lodge on the Nile at Murchison Falls Park.  Ishasha Wilderness Camp is located along the Ntungwe River and is the only lodge that is inside of the Park. We like many other tour operators have used this lodge for over 10 years hearing only raves from our clients.

Ishasha Wilderness is synonymous until now with relaxing luxury in the Wild.  One can be sure that security measures will be taken at every level in Queen Elizabeth Park but every other Ugandan Park and Wildlife Reserve

If you look at the Queen Elizabeth Map above you will see that Ishasha is a sort of halfway point on the way to or from Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Buhoma region.  Is there that the last major Tourist incident took place in 1999 when Rwandan Hutu rebels who had settled in DR Congo came across the border and murdered 9 people Buhoma area of Bwindi Forest when Gorilla Tourism was still in its infancy. Until now, there have been no other incidents and gorilla trekking in Uganda has been one of the safest activities and a military escort accompanies every Gorilla Trek.

The Ishasha portion of Queen Elizabeth Park is presently closed as would be any crime scene while the police and the military are conducting their operation which most likely includes some kind of negotiation and communication with kidnappers – Kimberly Sue Endicott’s phone has been used daily to prove that she is still alive.  The Search has expanded beyond the Park area where the kidnapping took place.

Security Alert U.S. Embassy Kampala, Uganda (April 4, 2019)

Location: Ishasha, Uganda

Event: The U.S. Embassy in Kampala advises U.S. citizens of an ongoing criminal event in the Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda. The Government of Uganda has sent security forces to the area.  Exercise caution when traveling to this area due to ongoing law enforcement/security activity.

Actions to Take:  Avoid the  Ishasha area of Queen Elizabeth National Park in southwestern Uganda until the event is resolved.

Who is this Kidnapped American Tourist? 

Kimberly Sue Endicott, 56 is a grandmother who comes from Costa Mesa, Orange County, California and old esthetician who runs a skin-care clinic. Friends of her have stated that she had been talking with enthusiasm about her planned trip to Uganda. One of her big dreams was to go and see the Gorillas. Sadly her African Dream Safari turned into a nightmare.

 

 

The Search for Kimberly Sue Endicott  and her driver continues

Please Note:  When you are Gorilla Trekking there is always an armed escort with you,  The guard for the gorilla trek remains in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, in this case, the Buhoma area since she was on Safari Wild Frontiers Safaris who are one with exclusive Lodges, Buhoma Lodge and the sister Lodge in Isasha.

It is suggested to have an armed Ranger with you on Game Drives in Savannah Park, up to now you could go on a game drive without one, this may change.  The cost per vehicle for an armed ranger who assists both with spotting Wildlife and provides security is 20 USD per vehicle.

Isasha Wilderness Camp is inside of the park, the only lodge in the area inside of the park, it is the only high-end lodge in the area.  Would an armed Ranger have made a difference against 4 armed men, the answer to that is speculation, we simply do not know?  It is in our opinion another layer of security and something we automatically add to the itinerary of a client.

Am I safe in Uganda today?

 American Tourist is Kidnapped – I am sure that some will try to put a spin on what has occurred – you can’t put a spin on a kidnapping.  Yes, it is the first kidnapping ever  in Uganda, it is still a Tourist kidnapping and right now there are two people caught up in its web while others, the Ugandan Police and Military are doing their best to find them

The reality – this has been a wakeup call for many and one could probably safely state that Uganda in April of 2019 is probably the safest place to be for a Tourist since Security will be at its highest level.  In this country, until this incident Tourists have been safe and secure apart from petty theft here and there.  I as an American feel quite safe in Uganda in spite of security and traveler advisories that may come out tomorrow. 

The security that tourists will enjoy because of this horrible, but isolated incident will be cranked up a few notches. 

 Dr. Peter Tarlow, a security expert told the reliable and well-known in travel circles E-TurboNews: “The tragic kidnapping that recently occurred in Uganda should not be seen as indicative of overall safety in Uganda.

“Very much to the contrary, Uganda has been known over the decades to be a safe and secure destination. Unfortunately, there are bad people in every part of the world and travel implies risk.

“However, Uganda cannot afford to rely on its recent past but must show the world what it is doing in the future.”

We, as a tour operator take the security and wellbeing of our clients quite seriously that is why we have as much information about safety and security as we do on our site.  The safe outcome of a safari is more important to us than the income.

Every Lodge, every hotel, every park in Uganda will have increased security in the days to come, some may call it a case of overkill, we think it as wise and prudent.

In the meantime, we pray that  Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Driver-Guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo are safely released.  That is and should remain the Focus of the Ugandan Government, Tour and Lodge Operators, everything else can be dealt with later. While we wait, we hope and pray.

This page will be updated Daily with any news that is released by the Police, sorry in Uganda there are no hourly news-updates given by police.