Tourists are Participants in the fight against Poaching
The COVID-19 Pandemic proves that Tourism reduces Poaching in Uganda
Tourism reduces Poaching in the National Parks of Uganda. The COVID-19 Pandemic shut down Tourism in Uganda as in other African Countries. The National Parks and Wildlife Reserves shut down during parts of the COVID-19 lockdown. Thousands lost their income, even jobs. Driver-Guides, Porters for Gorilla Trekking, Lodge Employees, Tour Operators were laid off. Even Souvenir Artisans had no one to sell to.
Men, Women, beyond numerical statistics. Thousands of fathers and mothers without means for daily subsistence. The pangs of Hunger were felt in the remotest of villages in Uganda. Rural Ugandans, including those living near Parks, received regular Presidential COVID-19 lockdown measures without any signs of a restoral of Tourism as they had known it.
The shutdown of Tourism also affects Uganda Wildlife Staff since the funding of Uganda Wildlife Authority, including the salaries of Rangers, depends on Tourism. Neighboring Countries are attempting to open their parks for International Tourists, yet getting to those countries, especially for Tourists from the USA, a prime source of African Travelers remains problematic.
All this undoubtedly affects the morale of Rangers. It may also affect the morale of Rangers. Not only the moral but resolve to stop poachers from harming Uganda’s Wildlife. Even Charles Tumwesigye, the UWA’s deputy director of field operations, has stated so.
Help to Rangers and their families has given here and there, such as a food donation from the Association of Uganda Tour Operators. Pilgrim Africa Donated $100,000 to support Rangers in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Gorilla Park.
Some Ugandans have looked beyond their small gardens to Uganda’s 10 National Parks and the other Wildlife reserve as a way to still the Hunger of their children and families. The result is that Poaching in Uganda has doubled during the COVID-19 Pandemic and lockdown.
Yes, Tourism reduces Poaching in the National Parks of Uganda.
The COVID-19 Pandemic proves that Tourism reduces Poaching in Uganda.
In Uganda, the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in 1,056 recorded cases as of July 18, 2020. Zero Deaths have been recorded. The governmental lockdown of Uganda began on March 31, 2020, and has been extended until now with some easing of restrictions. Entebbe Airport and Uganda’s borders remain closed except for Commercial Trucks and Cargo planes.
Uganda Tourism Income was close to 1,6 Billion US Dollars per year. After the Pandemic restrictions around the world, Tourism in Uganda came to a screeching halt affecting the lives of thousands of Ugandans.
In Uganda, as in other countries, it has caused economic problems, including issues involving food security. Travel Bans, Airport, and Border closures brought a temporary end to the Ugandan Tourism sector. Tourism was earning Uganda close to 1,5 Billion US Dollars per year. Once the COVID-19 Pandemic came, Tourism in Uganda came to a screeching halt affecting thousands of Ugandan. All this has resulted in lack, Hunger, need, and food insecurity. Some Ugandans have chosen to enter parks and reserves poaching for Bushmeat.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has recorded 367 poaching incidents in the parks between February and May of this year, more than double the number during the same period in 2019, says Charles Tumwesigye, the agency’s deputy director of field operations.
This alarming increase in Poaching does not take June and July 2020 into consideration when the need for food increased. The numbers released by UWA most likely are on the low side. They do not take into account instances where poachers remove both animals and traps before a Ranger Patrol might detect them.
They are poaching driven by poverty since there are no chances to earn money. But also by ignorance of the consequences of Poaching, which can harm park visits due to lack of animals. Some Poachers go out with crude weapons and hunting dogs and are now targeting larger animals such as Buffaloes, Antelopes, even Elephants where there is the added income from the sale of the ivory. Without Tourism there fewer vehicles in the parks.
With fewer vehicles, poachers can more readily monitor the comings and goings of UWA Rangers and poaching patrols avoiding being arrested and going about their dastardly deed of Poaching.
With the COVID-19 increase in Poaching, Uganda Wildlife Authorities believe that there are thousands of illegal poaching snares and traps within the parks. Indiscriminate traps and snares can snap the leg off an antelope, even giraffe or lion. The animals are pinned to the ground in pain until they die due to the loss of blood, and starvation.traps may be whisked away before authorities detect their activity.
Before the COVID-19 Pandemic and Tourism shut down, Uganda’s conservation efforts were recording all kinds of success stories with the Mountain Gorillas, Elephant and Giraffe population efforts bringing numbers of animals back to in some cases 1960s level. The rampant poaching during the turbulent and lawless 1970s and early 80s had wiped out many animals.
Now in 2920 as the harsh winds of the COVID-19 are sweeping around the Globe. With no Tourism income funding Uganda Wildlife Authority conservation and antipoaching efforts, the outlook is bleak not only for Uganda but for many other Safari Tourist destinations in Africa.
Tragic COVID-19 Poaching Consequences in Uganda
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest:
In June of 2020, four poachers went hunting for small animals. They came across the Nkuring Gorilla Family. Their leader, the 25-year-old Silverback Rafiki, charged them. A poacher speared and killed Rafiki. The Nkuringo Gorilla Family is now leaderless, left to fend on their own.
Four poachers have been arrested and are awaiting trial. Fortunately, since 2019 Uganda has some stringent laws on the books.
Queen Elizabeth Park
OnMay16, a lion was discovered with body parts missing. In South Africa, Lion Parts are used in “muti” spells and potions by witch doctors and traditional healers. UWA and the Uganda Carnivore Project are seeing whether this practice has become local.
Dr. Ludwig Siefert of the Uganda Carnivore Project reported that some lions are not in natural areas, which has caused concern at Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Murchison Falls National Park:
In June of 2020, UWA Rangers on an Antipoaching patrol discovered traps with seven dead giraffes. It came as a significant blow to all. Additionally, four lions have been found trapped in snares in the park in recent months. After treatment, the lions were set free. They will likely survive as long as they are part of a social group.
Yes, Tourism reduces Poaching in the National Parks of Uganda
As one can see from the above accounts that without tourists poaching increases. Yes, one can attribute the recent spike in poaching on COVID-19 lockdown measures and desperate Ugandans taking desperate actions to feed their families.
Bushmeat was available before the COVID-19 measures were put into place. Now Bushmeat has become a staple for many near and around the National Parks and Wildlife Reserves.
One of the antidotes that work against poachers is the presence of tour vehicles with tourists and a UWA Ranger guiding them. With the return of Tourists, the morale of many rangers will be lifted. Also often tourists tip rangers for services rendered, such as guiding them on Hike, nature trails, climbs, primate trekking.
The presence of tourists will reduce poaching activities by contributing to the local economy through employment, funding for both conservation and community projects ranging from electric fences to elephant trenches.
Tourism is one of the few Ugandan industries that are sustainable for now and in the future. Without Tourism, much of the parks, forests, swamps would be turned into farm and grazing lands. Without Tourism, the wildlife of Uganda would be decimated as during Uganda’s turbulent years.
Yes, Tourism reduces Poaching in the National Parks of Uganda, but it does a lot more. It is one of the building blocks in the wellbeing of Uganda and Ugandans. Tourism is sustainable, and unlike the building of a dam, an oil-producing facility Tourism will keep on giving long beyond our time on this earth. Uganda is the Pearl of Africa. Let us do what we can to provide it with a new luster.
Do your part – Report any poaching activity or wildlife trade to the authorities such as the Police, or the Uganda Wildlife Authority.