As Uganda is set to celebrate the 2018 UN world Wildlife day, it has been revealed that the life of the ‘big cats’ in the country is declining.
The five large big cats in Uganda include; Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Cheetah and the African Wild dog.
The Minister of Toursim, Wildlife and Antiquities Prof Ephraim Kamuntu told journalists at the Media Centre the bad news:
“The population of big cats has been declining.”
Estimations that have been made by the Ministry have it that the lion population has declined from over 1000 to 420 across the country.
The Minister explained: “This has largely been due to human prosecution through poisoning and related retaliatory killings. The root cause is attributed to the growing human population, settlements adjacent to wildlife conservation areas, competition for land and habitant loss resulting in livestock predation and other conflicts.”
He revealed that the big cats could easily become extinct, adding that this, would not only deprive the country of its iconic natural assets but also impact on tourism development in Uganda.
Tourism in Uganda is the leading foreign exchange earner, with contribution to GDP standing at Ushs7.27 trillion (9.0% of GDP). The tourism sector also provides over 1 million jobs in Uganda.
It should be noted that Lions only come second to Mountain Gorillas as the most sought after species by tourists who come to Uganda.
With most of Ugandan societies having some cultural attachments to these big cats, the Minister confirmed that they are to do everything in their means to conserve them:
“As NRM Government, we are doing all within our means to improvethe conservation status of Big Cats through Policy and legislation reforms, strengthening law enforcement capacity, increasing partnership with local people by sharing revenue and involving them in decision making, mitigating human wildlife conflicts and many others.”