Expert ask govt to increase gorilla permits 

BY PAUL TAJUBA.

A Ugandan born veteran conservationists Kaddu Sebunya, has proposed that government increases gorilla trekking permits and make earn more than auxiliary service providers.

MrSebunya, the chief executive officer of African Wildlife Foundation, said in an interview with this paper last week, that airlines are reaping more from tourists than Ugandans who own the wildlife.

“Someone buys a ticket from London. A cheap ticket is between £800 [Economy] to £3000 [First Class]. They come here to see a buffalo, how do you allow KLM to make more money than people in Queen Elizabeth National Park? Emirates pay £3000 to come and see mountain gorillas. Emirates make more money than people next to mountain gorillas,” Mr Sebunya said.

Uganda charges $600 to trek gorilla per person. Rwanda on the other hand charges $1500 for all visitors.

Mr Sebunya congratulated Uganda for managing well the 10 parks and other reserves but said government should do more to help communities surrounding parks to benefit from the resources in their vicinity.

Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner and Uganda last year raked in $1.4b (Shs5 trillion) from the sector, according to statistics from Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), agency that markets the country.

Mr Stephen Asiimwe, the outgoing UTB chief executive officer, said time is now to have discussion on increasing the gorilla trekking permits since “we have sold out”.

Mr Bashir Hangi, the Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesperson, said increasing permits is good “but it has to be consultative” before a decision can be made.

Mr Sebunya also asked Africans to protect wildlife not necessarily for tourism but as their heritage since “they are our clans, names, our culture, they are our identity”. He also said ecosystems where parks live a play a critical role our survival and it would be unwise for anyone to destroy them.