The government of Uganda through the Ministry Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities has on Monday 12th 2018 hosted the 16th African Wildlife Consultative Forum which attracted over 70 participants from various African states and international and regional wildlife conservation agencies.
The objective of the forum is to share conservation best practices which can be adopted to mitigate the increasing incidences of poaching which has negative impacts on the development of the tourism sector on the African continent.
Officiating at the opening of the Meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Monday, Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities pharaim Kamuntu said African states should strengthen legal regulations to protect wildlife and other natural species for the good of nature.
“I call upon Governments and partners in conservation to strengthen collaboration and cooperation especially in sharing intelligence, capacity building and also strengthening cross border laws to help in combating illegal wildlife trade which is becoming a booming business in most countries,” he said.
He noted that African countries should focus more on biodiversity conservation because of its critical role in generating income.
“We are depending on biodiversity to promote tourism, our tourism sector is wildlife based and through it, the sector is contributing about 9% of the country’s GDP.”
The 16th conservation conference comes at a time when wildlife conservation in Africa is at crossroads. Africa has made tremendous achievements in conservation but a lot remains to be done.
The Minister said the government of Uganda is committed to ensure that the country’s nature is protected.
Among other key interventions the government is implementing is the Strengthening of law enforcement through recruiting, training and equipping game rangers and tourism police who work together to ensure safety and security of wildlife and tourists resources.
He added that Uganda has established specialized wildlife court to expeditiously try all Wildlife trafficking cases in an effective manner.
Kamuntu told the participants that since the court was established three years ago, they have improved the conviction rate from less than 50% to over 90% for all wildlife crime cases.
Dr. Christopher Comer, the Executive Director Safari Club International Foundation, also the Organizer of the Forum asked African governments to ensure that animal to human conflict in most national parks is mitigated.
“Sometimes the conflict comes as result of weak enforcement of the conservation regulations or failure by the public to understand the economic potential associated with conservation,” he said.
Tanzania Government Wildlife Conservation and the Executive Director Tanzania Wildlife Authority Dr. James Wakibara said the agency is experiencing a big challenge of encroachers on most national parks and game reserves, especially from the livestock keepers particularly the Masai.
Participants came from African Countries such as Tanzania South Africa Namibia, Mozambique Zimbabwe, and Cameroon among other countries.