Tourism Minister Ephraim Kamuntu has rushed to Queen Elizabeth National Park where a pride of eleven lions was found dead this week.
It’s alleged the wild cats were poisoned by a cattle keeper whose cow was killed by the lions near Hamukungu Fishing Village.
The farmer reportedly laced pieces of meat with poison with the view of taking revenge against the lions.
In the area, Minister Kamuntu vowed authorities would hunt down and arrest the suspects in the incident that has shocked the nation.
He also held a brief prayer for the killed animals.
The incident underscores the negative attitude of communities neighboring park situated on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains and could undermine efforts to preserve the rare wildlife in the country – a key source of tourism revenues.
In 2016, the direct contribution of Travel and Tourism to Uganda’s GDP was Shs 2.4 tn (USD0.7bn) and is forecast to rise by 7.0 percent per year, from 2017-2027, to Shs5,558.3bn (USD1.6bn), 3.2 percent of total GDP in 2027.
The same year, Tourism directly supported 191,000 jobs (2.2 percent of total employment) and this is expected to rise by 4.9 percent per year to 355,000 jobs (2.7 percent of total employment) in 2027.
Makerere University Tourism Association (MUTA) members appealed to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to exercise its responsibility to protect and conserve wildlife.
“Firstly, there was an agreement made between these locals at the fishing village with UWA that if they are not to vacate the place they should do only fishing not rearing animals that would attract these wild animals. So the question is who permitted them to rear those cows?” the students asked in their statement seen by ChimpReports on Saturday.
“Secondly, to UWA, we ask for maximum patrols and also fighting these invasive species because the number of animals that these carnivores feed on has reduced. So translocation should also be done.”