By Isaac Mugera –

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has said that Government is fully committed to fighting poaching and illegal wild-life trade in order to conserve wild life and the environment in general.

President Museveni’s remarks were carried in his speech delivered by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Uganda Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda during the commemoration of the UN World Wild life Day held at Boma Grounds in Arua Municipality on Sunday 3rd March 2019.

Before delivering the President’s speech, Prime Minister Rugunda first toured the various stalls at the venue including those containing wild animals such as lions, snakes, and leopards. The celebrations were held under the theme, “Harmonious Living Between Wild Life and Humans”

Prime Minister Rugunda along with Minister Kamuntu taken around the various stalls. This was at a stall containing different types of snakes.

In his speech, President Museveni said that in a bid to promote tourism, government will ensure that all challenges hindering tourism development are addressed and these include; human- wildlife conflicts, climate change impact, invasive species, limited ecological research, low awareness, and wild life trafficking, among others.

President Museveni said that government has already taken several policy and legislation reforms to promote conservation of the Uganda Wild Life.

“We have formulated the Uganda Wildlife Policy, 2014, Uganda Tourism Policy, 2015 and Uganda Tourism Master Plan. Uganda Wildlife Bill, 2017 revising existing Uganda Wildlife Act 2000 which has now been approved by Parliament.  The Bill provides for deterrent penalties for people engaged in wildlife crime relating to endangered species up to maximum sentence of life imprisonment and hefty fines. All these are aimed at enhancing harmonious coexistence between wildlife and people” President Museveni said.

The president also said that the capacity of conservation institutions has been stepped up including creation of the Ministry responsible for conservation, strengthening Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education Center, Uganda Tourism Board among others. Government has now established National Wildlife Research and Training Institute to deal with Research and Training issues for conservation.

Prime Minister Rugunda and Minister Kamuntu appreciating the Aroma of a locally and manually manufactured coffee that the people of Arua produce.

He added that the Judiciary has established a dedicated court to deal with wildlife crimes and the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution, the Uganda Police, Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Customs and all law enforcement agencies are now working together to fight wildlife crime.

President Museveni commended the conservation partners, including; Non-Government Organizations, Academia, Research Institutions, Private Sector and Development Partners for all their efforts towards conservation of wildlife in Uganda.

The function was attended well by the Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the State Minister for Tourism, Mr. Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, and the European Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Attilio Pacifici, along with other foreign dignitaries from the UN, and local leaders at the various levels.