UGANDA (eTN) – Information came into the public domain over the weekend that the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has yielded to pressure on their decision to permit sports hunting in Uganda, a very controversial subject among the conservation fraternity in the country. A pilot project, introduced several years ago outside the Lake Mburo National Park, was arguably never discussed with stakeholders in the open public domain, and while noises were made in the past that “consultations were held,” this was neither substantiated by providing meeting records and participant lists nor known about by many of the concerned partners of UWA in the private sector.
Opponents of hunting have long demanded that first a full stock taking ought to be undertaken to establish the game numbers across the country and provide acceptable data on what game, if any, can be hunted. Calls for stricter sanctions were repeatedly made in public, especially when it became known that hunting trip promoters had included the endangered Sitatunga gazelle in their brochures and adverts, in spite of this particular wetland gazelle being on the CITES annex.
UWA, now leaderless, has at last owned up to the need to carry out a game count and survey, admitting that concerns have existed all along over the sustainability of hunting in view of reducing game numbers in some parts of the country both outside and inside protected areas.
Other shortfalls often cited but equally often ignored were the lack of a strong regulatory regime, alleged legal loopholes, and the alleged absence of constant monitoring of what was going on in “hunting areas and concessions,” which often left the hunting companies to do what they liked without ever being cited, warned, or stopped from any activities which were not in line with other existing laws and regulations.
A regular source at UWA was not willing to discuss legal or financial implications of the decision and only conceded under the cover of anonymity that discussions with the hunting companies were “ongoing” and aimed to “find a resolution in the best interest of wildlife conservation.”
Conserving for generations – after all this is the slogan of UWA – should be first and foremost on the mind of the authority’s decision makers – ALWAYS.