UWA urged to put wildlife protection billboards in villages, not towns

 

A UWA Billboard placed along Kasese-Mbarara Highway in Kasese Town. Park Communities want this information put in their respective areas too. PHOTO URN

Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Residents neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese District are asking Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to extend wildlife information to rural areas.

They argue that they don’t see the relevance of this information being pinned in town yet the key target group stay in the villages.

UWA has erected billboards in Kasese town to raise awareness of wildlife offences and the new penalties.

But Geoffrey Asiimwe Kamuhanda a resident of Kahendero landing site says they had a community engagement with UWA in 2019 and asked for public information on new laws and issues to do with human and wildlife conflicts.

However, Asiimwe is surprised that this information has now been placed in towns instead of the local communities neighbouring the park who are its key recipients.

Asiiimwe also asks UWA to start supporting the community in development ventures to improve relationships between wildlife and the communities.

Richard Kiiza from Kanyampara says people are lacking information regarding the new laws despite UWA’s efforts to erect billboards. He says it’s only those who are lucky to travel to town with knowledge of the English language that can make a meaning out of this information.

He wants this information to be placed in their respective local areas and language.

Janet Katusabe another resident blames UWA for failing to sensitize them on the new law despite the community call.  She demands UWA to organize community dialogues to create awareness but also put up translated billboards into their communities.

Ham Natuhyera, the district councillor representing Nyakatonzi Sub County says many community members neighbouring the park rarely travel to the town.  He also wants the messages to be translated into all the local languages in the district for effective communication.

Ezra Turyahabwe the outgoing Karusandara Sub County is concerned that if people lack information regarding the new wildlife law, they will continue being on the wrong side of the law.

James Okware, the Senior Warden in charge of Rwenzori National Park says that it was an oversight on their part not to circulate the information into the prime target areas.

In 2019, President Museveni assented to the Uganda Wildlife Act. The seeks to among others, provide compensation for loss occasioned by animals escaping from wildlife protected areas.

The law also provides for offences relating to protected species such as Uganda Kob, leopard, Squirrel, Impala and Cheetah among others.

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