UWEC Seeks sh10bn for Lion Population Recovery Project

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The Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) is seeking for sh10bn to fund lion population enhancement in the country. 

This was contained in the Ministerial Policy Statement, and Budget Estimates presented to Parliament’s sectoral Committee of Tourism, Trade, and Industry through UWEC’s mother Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities on Wednesday.

Dr. James Musinguzi, the UWEC’s Executive Director in a statement said the funds will facilitate the breeding of the lions in three selected National Parks in the country to avert the dwindling population of the big cats currently being threatened by the increasing human-wildlife conflict.

David Musingo, UWEC’s Acting Executive Director presented the statement on behalf of Dr. Musinguzi to the Committee, said that the conservation programme seeks to establish “bomas”, vast breeding areas in the natural wild as opposed to confining the lions in enclosures or cages.

If Parliament appropriates the requisite funds in the FY 2024/2025, Musingo explained that the pilot project is expected to begin with eight lionesses and two male ones and the cohort is projected to produce at least 16 offspring annually.

Mwine Mpaka Rwamirama, the Committee Chairperson queried the entity’s proposal saying the budget framework for the conservation programme lacked a detailed bill of quantities (BoQs) to enable the MPs to defend it on the floor of Parliament. He dismissed the officials to first harmonize the proposal.

Richard Muhumuza Gafabusa, Bwamba County Member of Parliament questioned the economic viability of such a project citing that UWEC currently is seeking up to 2.650 billion to feed the big cats and thus pushing for a 10 billion funding would be unrealistic.

Dr. James Watuwa, wildlife and veterinarian, at UWEC who doubles as a founder of the Endangered Wildlife Conservation Organization -EWCO revealed that globally, large carnivores are facing population declines as the ever-growing human population reduces habitable landscapes in which they can live.

He cited a 2009 Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) national census report on lions which showed a sharp decline of African lions (Panthera leo) from an estimated 600 a decade ago to 400 today.

Uganda has a total of ten national parks specifically gazetted for wildlife; out of these ten parks only five national parks have Lions namely; Queen Elizabeth National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Kidepo Valley National Park, Semiliki national park, and Lake Mburo National Park.

Based on a WCS assessment report 2006, the conservationists argue that Ugandan lions are one of the most sought-after animals by tourists with great local tourism value revealing that each lion raises about USD 14,000, about 52 million Shillings annually in park fees.

*Source – URN*

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