CONSERVATION IS THE WATCHWORD
Conservation in Uganda is based on the protection and sustainable use of the country’s rich natural resources. It became a significant philosophy during the British colonial period in the early 20th century and continues to play a major role in Uganda’s economy, as it underpins the tourist industry, which accounts for a fifth of the country’s exports.
Uganda’s 60 protected conservation areas are home to populations of numerous critically endangered species, including mountain gorilla, rhinoceros, red colobus monkey, chimpanzee, African wild dog, African elephant and lion.
ECOTOURISM IN UGANDA
The number of wild animals found in Uganda is impressive. Travellers used to flock to this east African country prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. Uganda, known as the Pearl of Africa, is richly endowed with a variety of tree species, plant life, beautiful landscapes and abundant wildlife, including the great apes (chimpanzee & mountain gorilla) and the Big Five.
The country enjoys perfect weather throughout the year, and the tropical climate is ideal for wildlife viewing. In fact, Uganda has over 350 species of mammals in all sizes. They range from large (such as gorilla, rhino, buffalo, lion and elephant) to small ones (like bat, bush baby and shrew).
Tourism contributes significantly to Uganda’s gross domestic product, provides significant investment opportunities and employment, and is a major source of foreign currency. The contribution of tourism to Uganda’s economy in 2011 was 3,2% of GDP valued at $682 million, with estimates for 2021 at 3,1% of GDP, valued at $1 198 million. (Source : World Travel & Tourism Council 2011)
Ecotourism in Uganda dates back to the early 1990s. It includes activities such as guided nature walks, bird watching, village / community walks, forest walks, butterfly watching, sport fishing, mountaineering / hill climbing, gorilla tracking, chimp tracking, game viewing, boat cruises, canoeing, caving, scenery viewing / nature photography, primate watching / walk, and other aspects relating to nature and cultural and rural tourism.
The ecotourism destinations include the 10 National Parks in various parts of the country. These are home to a wide variety of mammals and birds. Murchison Falls National Park is the biggest of all the parks, while the Semiliki Valley National Park is the smallest.
Sports hunting has been gradually reintroduced since the late 2000s. After being prohibited for over thirty years, five wilderness areas, including the renowned Karamoja, have been reopened for hunting.
These concessions are vast, each being approximately 27 000 km² (10 000 square miles). They are truly free-range hunting areas as you would have experienced them in the early 1900s. They present you with the rare opportunity to hunt the real Africa, and to experience the traditional hunting grounds with local tribesmen.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority has agreed to allow hunting in these areas and, most importantly, these agreements stipulate a profit sharing of the trophy fees in a ratio of 75%:25%. This means that the largest part of trophy fees accrue directly to the local communities, while the Government retains 25%. By making the local communities the major beneficiaries of sport-hunting revenues, wildlife is transformed from a serious threat to local communities – to be poached to extinction – into a valuable resource.
Uganda hunting season
There is no set hunting season in Uganda but the rainy seasons are best avoided. The best time to hunt buffalo and antelope is between December through to April; thereafter it becomes difficult due to the tall grass.
Firearms and ammunition
Each hunter is allowed to travel with two rifles. There is no stipulated maximum amount of ammunition permitted into Uganda. However, this will be restricted by airline regulation (usually 11 pounds). Handguns, semi-automatic or automatic firearms are prohibited.
Permits and licences
All sports hunters entering Uganda have to obtain a hunting licence and a rifle import permit prior to their arrival. A daily conservation fee of US$100,00 per hunter and US$ 40 per non-hunter is charged by the authorities.