On the 11th of April 2018, carcasses of a pride of 11 lions were found scattered in Hamukungu Fishing Village, in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The possible cause of death is suspected poisoning from the community members. The Hon Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu yesterday met with the communities and their leaders, in Hamukungu, on the same issue.
According to Kamuntu, killing of lions impacts heavily on tourism and revenue generation as most of the tourists who come to the savannah parks of Uganda are more interested in lion activities.
Tourism revenue is playing a critical role in livelihoods and development of communities around the national parks.
Through UWA, government gives back 20% of the Authority’s annual park gate collections to the communities neighboring the park under the revenue sharing scheme.
“Last year, we gave Shs929,269,487 to districts neighbouring Queen Elizabeth National Park of which Shs362,044,141 went to Kasese district to enhance the livelihoods of communities surrounding the protected area,” Kamuntu said.
Funds given to districts under the revenue sharing scheme go to community income generating projects and social service infrastructure such as schools and health facilities.
The revenue sharing scheme is meant to strengthen partnerships between local communities, local governments and management of wildlife areas leading to sustainable management of wildlife resources in protected areas.
He added that apart from revenue, there are other collaborative initiatives where communities benefit directly from the National Park. These include resource access such as fuel wood, grass, water, fish, bee keeping etc. Such resource off take from the park is valued at over sh400m per annum, the minister further said.
“It is therefore unfortunate that such an economically vibrant resource is maliciously being exterminated by selfish individuals that are negative towards the development of the communities and the country at large.”
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible such an act of deliberately killing animals which are now a top foreign exchange earner to the country contributing 10% of GDP and 23% of the total foreign exports. “
He said nature tourism is currently contributing $1.4b to the economy and also contributes to the well-being of communities surrounding the national parks.”
“We have already reported this matter to the police and we are working closely with other relevant authorities and stakeholders to pursue this matter until the perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to book and face the full extent of the law.