21 October 2009
Uganda has taken the outrageous decision to lift a decades-old ban on hunting large wild animals such as elephants and buffalo.
Amuru District Local Government, Aswa-Lolim Wildlife Association, Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Uganda Wildlife Safaris, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding authorising Uganda Wildlife Safaris to sell sport hunting licenses in areas of the Uganda not currently designated as wildlife reserves – approximately 76% of the country.
Despite a ban on sport hunting being implemented following the decimation of much of Uganda’s wildlife during a 1981-1986 civil war that brought the current government to power, the Uganda Wildlife Authority claims that certain wildlife populations, particularly elephant and buffalo, have recovered to the point where they are now a burden to local farmers, disrupting cattle grazing routes and damaging crops.
According to the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group, there are approximately 4322 elephants in Uganda (“Definite” and “Probable” 2006). Just 76% of this population inhabit protected areas, which comprise 8% of the country (IUCN AESG 2007).
Many conservationists are concerned at the lack of evidence for increased, and sustainable, wild animal populations. A hunting pilot was initiated in 2001 outside the Lake Mburo National Park but the findings are yet to be published, creating curiosity as to what the findings indicated.
Uganda Wildlife Safaris is expected to target high-income foreign tourists who will visit to hunt elephants, leopards and other wildlife for high prices in order to export “trophies” home. According to reports, land owners will earn 50% from the trophy fees. A community development fee of $50 per hunter will be collected along with a raft of other expenses for hunters, observers and managing partners.
Born Free Foundation is extremely concerned about the reinstatement of trophy hunting in Uganda. We will be approaching Ugandan organisations to see how we can support them and keep Uganda’s wildlife in the wild.