The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) early this week hosted a high-level delegation of Ugandan lawmakers and technocrats on a benchmarking tour of Kenya for best conservation practices. The delegation was led by Hon. Mangusho Lawrence Cherop, the Vice Chairperson of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee of Tourism and comprised of Members of Parliament, senior officials from the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry, Uganda Wildlife Authority and the Parliamentary Committee on Wildlife and Tourism.AWF Vice President of Species Protection, Dr. Philip Muruthi, briefed the team on the organization’s work on the continent and particularly on its interventions in policy and law enforcement in Uganda.
“It is important to have a scientific approach to all policy and legislation and have a holistic point of view when it comes to wildlife law in order to achieve proper co-existence of wildlife and humans in a fast-modernizing Uganda,” Dr. Muruthi said.
Also discussed were trends in conservation, the establishment of conservancies, compensation for wildlife-related losses and human-wildlife conflict mitigation.
“We are grateful to AWF for hosting our delegation and we are looking forward to seeing the practical application and implications of the legislation,” said Hon. Mangusho.
In February, the Ugandan Parliament passed the Wildlife Act 2019 providing for stiffer penalties for wildlife crime and a framework for creating conservancies and compensation for loss of life and property due to wildlife destruction. The new law proposes a life sentence for wildlife crimes such as poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
AWF’s Senior Manager, Wildlife Law Enforcement Ms. Didi Wamukoya, asked the lawmakers to provide budgetary and logistical support to Uganda Wildlife Authority for the smooth implementation of the new law.
“The Uganda Wildlife Act 2019 will be dead if not properly enforced. The Uganda Wildlife Authority needs to be well staffed and equipped with enforcement mechanisms as the body that is expected to take up this role,” said Ms. Wamukoya.
The team also toured Amboseli National Park where they discussed the best practices and lessons learnt from the Kenyan Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, with AWF Director of Policy and Advocacy, Ms. Fiesta Warinwa. They visited programs run by the Kenya Wildlife Service, conservancies and local communities for income generation and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict.
“Seeing as we have borrowed a lot from Kenya’s Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, it is important to learn what challenges Kenya has been facing in enforcing its new law so we can advise on what regulations need to be put in place in order to operationalize the Ugandan Law,” said Mr. John Makombo, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Director of Conservation.
Also in the delegation was Hon. Dhamuzungu Geoffrey, Hon. Lokii John Baptist, Hon. Namoe Stella Nyomera and Hon. Onyango Gideon. Others were Ms. Ojara Margaret (Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities), Mr. Chemonges Mongea Sabilla, Mr. Bagaga Ronald and Mr. Owilli Geoffrey Mickey.