The Minister of Tourism, Hon. Martin Mugarra Calls for Increased Funding for Uganda’s National Parks

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Hon. Martin Mugarra, has urged Members of Parliament to advocate for increased funding for Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to address human-wildlife conflicts in Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth national parks.

Minister Mugarra, accompanied by a UWA delegation, highlighted the challenges facing parks, including poaching and animals encroaching on community land, leading to property damage and loss of life.

“The human-wildlife conflict is a significant concern. UWA has built dams in Lake Mburo National Park to prevent animals from straying into communities, but incidents still occur. We need additional funding to tackle these issues,” stated Mugarra.

Speaking to MPs from the Committee of Tourism, Trade, and Industry during their oversight visit to Lake Mburo National Park in Kiruhura District on Friday, 09 February 2024, Mugarra emphasized the need for increased budget allocation. He proposed using the funds to fence the park, improve park roads, and construct staff housing. Mugarra also emphasized the importance of accommodating local tourists, who now constitute over 60% of Lake Mburo visitors.

“We only have 10 accommodation units for local travelers. It’s crucial to cater to Ugandan travelers, especially in light of recent events like the impact of the gay bill, which could affect foreign tourism. With adequate funding and infrastructure improvements, Lake Mburo can significantly increase its annual revenue, currently at Shs3.2 billion,” he explained.

Mugarra pledged to petition the finance minister to raise UWA’s budget ceiling, emphasizing the potential for increased revenue generation with adequate funding.

Meanwhile, legislators encouraged UWA to engage communities in anti-poaching efforts while awaiting increased funding. Hon. Andrew Koluo (Indep., Toroma County) suggested intensifying community sensitization and proposed expanding the park’s wildlife, including lions, through effective fencing.

At Queen Elizabeth National Park, MPs learned of plans to domesticate cane rats, a poached mammal, as a novel approach to combat poaching. Hon. Charles Okello (DP, Nwoya East County) commended the initiative, noting the popularity of cane rats as a delicacy in Northern Uganda.