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Wildlife investor seeks Parliament support over row with UWA

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Price addressing the MPs and the media at his conservation facility

A local investor in Butambala District, Thomas Price, has appealed to Parliament to intervene in what he termed as frustration from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) for the delayed issuance of the licence to trap specific species of animals.

Price, originally from Switzerland, is the proprietor of Conservation Through Commercialisation (CTC), a private conservation, education and tourist facility with lions, buffaloes, wild dogs, iguanas, lemurs, foxes, hyenas, snakes, tortoises, crocodiles, and zebras among others.

“We are happy where we have reached but unhappy with where we want to be. Whichever step we take we find challenges; in the past two years, we paid for a trapping licence, and we have sent reminders to UWA but it has not been delivered” Price said.

Price made his plea during the oversight visit of the Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry at CTC on Thursday, 08 February 2024.

Price accused UWA of continuously putting off his requests to import specific breeds of tigers and hyenas which he said are highly attractive to tourists. He said that his request to acquire zebras from the Lake Mburo National Park with over 2,000 zebras has also not been honoured.

“Put yourself in my shoes –  If you are an investor like me, it can be frustrating, I spend on 1,100 kilogrammes of meat to feed animals every week,” Price said.

He asked the committee to investigate an officer at UWA only identified as Makombo who he said has frustrated his efforts. He claimed that Makombo has not only frustrated CTC but the entire tourism sector, which he remarked had more potential compared to certain developed countries such as those in Europe.

The Under Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Samuel Kakura, assured MPs that the ministry is already engaged in processes to settle the conflicts.

“I want to assure CTC that we will support its endeavours, we recognise private stakeholders supporting conservation. We are going to work on your issues, and continue the engagement,” said Kakura.

The UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha, counter accused Price of delaying to submit the environmental impact assessment report and disobeying UWA’s guidance.

“We provided him with a list of animals he can have. When we ask why he cannot first exhaust the list, he goes on accusing not only Makombo but other staff and me,” Kakuru said.

The committee chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka, said the committee will summon all the parties involved for further interrogation.

“We need to look at the documents of CTC, understand their challenges, and see how to support them,’” said Mwine Mpaka.

MPs appreciated the quality of services offered at CTC, spread out on over 50 acres and proposed that government consider supporting such an investor.

RARE: Hon. Sylvia Nayebale carrying a cab as Hon. Pamela Kamugo watches on

“We have seen investors who have been supported and have done nothing, yet we have here one who is doing good work and is being frustrated; frustrating an investor is criminal,” said Hon. Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County).

Lower Madi County MP, Hon. Ronald Afidra, wished to know the extent to which government has supported CTC, cognisant of the complementary role the zoo plays in wildlife conservation.

“Our government provides such investors with incentives, to what extent has it supported CTC, considering that tourism is our top income earner?” asked Afridra.

The committee is on an oversight visit to selected tourism sites in western and central Uganda, in the company of UWA and the tourism ministry.

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