UGANDA (eTN) – Demands by community groups from outside Queen Elizabeth National Park that visiting tourists “should report to local community leaders” caused both consternation, as well as bemusement by safari operators, when the news was reported in the local media earlier in the week.
Reportedly, the groups demanded that tourists “should come to the local authorities first,” immediately giving rise to suggestions that ulterior motives were at work, disguising an attempt to make money from tourists – as one regular source from the safari sector put it – by any means.
Such suspicions were given a further boost when it was learned that the same groups also demanded from the National Forest Authority the right to cultivate bare patches in protected forests, prompting the same source to say: “It is clear there is no motive of conservation or in fact any good motivation other than trying to get their hands on tourists. Who knows what will be demanded of them should our drivers comply with such and bring tourists to local administrators. We pay park entrance for the visitors to [Uganda Wildlife Authority] UWA, have our licences from the Ministry of Tourism, so why should tourists ‘report’ somewhere else? And the group’s demand to be allowed to cultivate in forests shows they are not having an idea about conservation but are only interested in commercial gains.”