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State Minister for Tourism, Hon Godfrey Kiwanda Suubi has blamed the decline of grey crowned cranes in the country, on wetland encroachment, poaching and smuggling.
Minster Kiwanda was on Monday officiating at the 2020 Crane Festival held at Kikungiri Primary School playground in Kabale Municipality.
“It’s quite unfortunate that some Ugandans are now smuggling these birds for trade among the traditional practitioners in the neighboring countries of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Minister Kiwanda.
According to Ms Jane Amumpeire, the program manager Self Help Africa, the beautiful birds are now under more threat now that some Ugandans have started hunting them for food.
Achilles Byaruhanga the Executive director of Nature Uganda noted that in the mid-1970s there were about 100, 000 cranes in Uganda, and that this number dropped sharply to 35,000 in 1989.
The most recent study, he said, found that only 8000 cranes today, remain the country.
Byaruhanga called for more awareness amongst the population especially on proper methods of environmental protection so that the nation can regain the numbers of this most valuable bird.
During the same function, Minister Kiwanda launched the Uganda National Species Action Plan for Grey Crowned crane.
The minister urged local leaders to be at the forefront of restoring wetlands, saying that this will lead to increased wetland vegetation cover, protection of wetland patches for enhanced nesting success of Grey Crowned Crane that is on Uganda flag.