Butambala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | In Butambala District, a local investor named Thomas Price has urged Parliament to address his concerns regarding what he perceives as delays from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in granting the license to capture specific animal species.
Hailing from Switzerland, Price owns Conservation Through Commercialisation (CTC), a private facility focused on conservation, education, and tourism. The facility houses various animals, including Lions, Buffaloes, Wild Dogs, Iguanas, Lemurs, Foxes, Hyenas, Snakes, Tortoises, Crocodiles, and Zebras.
“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.
On Thursday, February 8, 2024, Thomas Price voiced his concerns to the Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry during their oversight visit to CTC.
Price accused the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) of consistently delaying his requests to import particular breeds of Tigers and Hyenas in Uganda, which he believes would significantly appeal to tourists.
Furthermore, he expressed disappointment as his request to acquire Zebras from the Lake Mburo National Park, boasting over 2,000 Zebras, has yet to be acknowledged.
“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.
Price urged the committee to probe an UWA officer named Makombo, whom he accused of obstructing his endeavors. According to him, Makombo’s actions have not only impeded CTC but have negatively affected the entire tourism sector.
Price emphasized the untapped potential of the tourism sector, asserting that it surpasses that of certain developed countries in Europe.
UWA speaks out
Samuel Kakura, the Under Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, assured Members of Parliament that the Ministry is actively involved in resolving 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.
“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 added.
UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha, countered by accusing Price of delaying the submission of the environmental impact assessment report and disregarding UWA’s guidance.
Committee Chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka, declared that the committee intends to summon all involved parties 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 commended the quality of services provided at CTC, spanning over 50 acres, and suggested that the government explore the possibility of supporting such an investor.
“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, inquired about the level of government support for CTC, recognizing the zoo’s complementary role 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, accompanied by UWA and the Tourism Ministry, is conducting an oversight visit to chosen tourism sites in Western and Central Uganda.