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Ministry of Tourism joins the World to celebrate World Wildlife Day 2022

Wakiso, Uganda, March 3, 2022: Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities together with agencies; Uganda Tourism Board, Uganda Wildlife Authority, Uganda Wildlife Education and Conservation Centre and departments under the ministry including; Uganda Hotel Tourism and Training Institute, Wildlife department, tourism development department, Uganda Museums Department, and Uganda Wildlife Research and Training Institute joined the rest of the World to mark World Wildlife Day on March 3rd, 2022 under the theme ‘’Recovering Key species for ecosystem restoration’’ at UWEC Zoo in Entebbe, Wakiso district.

The celebrations were graced with attendance by the Guest of honour H.E Vice President of the Republic of Uganda Hon. Jessica Alupo, Hon (Rtd) Col. Tom Butime – Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Hon. Martin Bahinduka Mugarra – State minister for tourism, PS Doreen Katusiime, UTB Board Chair Daudi Migereko, Mr Lyazzi Vivian – Asst. Commissioner Tourism Development, James Musinguzi Executive Director UWEC, Sam Mwanda - Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director and staff, UTB CEO Lilly Ajarova, UTB Deputy CEO Bradford Ochieng, UNDP deputy representative to Uganda - Sheila Ngatia, Among others.

During the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly on 20th December 2013, the UN under resolution 68/205 acknowledged March 3rd as World Wildlife Day to celebrate several assortments of flora and fauna as well as root for awareness that would yield various benefits of Conservation to humankind.

Part of the day’s activities pre-event date included; the Cranes Festival that took place from February 28th to March 02nd, 2022 in Kaikolongo, Lwengo district. On World Wildlife life Day, celebration activities included; Tour of UWEC zoo, Exhibitions, a visit to accomplished projects, the opening of the Children’s conservation learning centre funded by UNDP, a Wildlife Conservation competition, and contests in art and creative writing, essay writing competitions, among more.

While addressing guests during the day’s celebrations, the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, H.E Hon. Jessica Alupo revealed that - Globally, according to UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization), between 2009 – 2019, tourism saw continued growth and diversification and had become one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world. In 2019 alone, international tourist arrivals (overnight visitors) reached 1.5 billion worldwide, following a decade of uninterrupted growth. Arrivals increased by an average 5% per year between 2009 and 2019 (UNWTO).

She said,’’ Tourism also became one of the world’s major trade categories, with export revenues from tourism reaching USD 1.7 trillion in 2019, equivalent to 28% of the world’s trade in services and 7% of overall exports of goods and services (UNWTO)’’.

She also highlighted, ‘’ A number of us here are aware that, between the 1950s and 1960s, a number of conservation areas were created such as National Parks and Game Reserves to protect wildlife and its habitats. By 1986, Uganda had 4 national parks (Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls and Kidepo Valley National Parks). Three of these had been created by the colonial government. Since 1986, the NRM government has created 6 more (Kibale, Semuliki, Bwindi Impenetrable, Mgahinga Gorilla, Mt. Elgon and Rwenzori Mountains National Parks) to increase our National Parks to 10. We did this well aware that tourism would play a significant role in our transformation efforts as we move towards achieving the middle-income status’’

Upon addressing guests during the celebrations, Hon (Rtd) Col. Tom Butime – Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities noted that, the date of March 3rd was chosen in recognition of the day of the signature convention on International Trade in Endangered species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) in 1973 as UN World wildlife day to observe and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.

He said, ‘’the immense diversity of animals, plants, beautiful landscapes, mountains, forests, wetlands and friendly people among others have made Uganda a premier destination. Wildlife–based tourism has been flourishing before Covid – 19 and continues to thrive.

He added, ‘’Africa is traditionally popular for the big species that are in Uganda including; lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino, plus the additional big five comprising; the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi and Mgahinga ranges, giraffe, chimpanzee, hippo and cheetah, which we will be marketing as Big 10 – only found in the Pear of Africa’’.

Conservation of wildlife and tourism have had a devastating effect since the outbreak of the Covid – 19 pandemic and worsened by restrictions amplified by lockdowns that led to the closure of airports and parks which severely led to the drastic decline in visitor numbers from over 1.5m to 500,000 visitors. This has led to a corresponding decline in revenue generation and negatively impacted the implementation of key conservation community development programmes as much of the revenue generated from tourism activities is re-invested into conservation activities, although there’s a ray of hope for tourism performance to improve as the economy, international borders, airports and aerospace is now open for travel to bounce back like before.

This year’s theme ‘’Recovering key species from ecosystem’’ rides on the heels of ecosystems restoration geared towards drawing attention to the significant role of endangered keystone species; plants and animals act to ensure ecosystem health and human livelihood.

On the other side, it highpoints the urge to conserve and protect endangered species, support habitat restoration, and ecosystems and promotes sustainable utilisation by humans.

Uganda ranks among the topmost biodiversity-rich countries globally as its home to 53.9% almost half of the remaining mountain gorilla population in the world, 11% of recorded bird species, 8% of global mammal diversity (which is 39% of Africa’s mammal richness), 19% of Africa’s amphibian species, 14% of Africa’s reptile species richness and a recorded 1,249 of butterflies species.


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