Law enforcement in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) received a boost on July 24 with the handover of a newly constructed ranger outpost to the country’s wildlife authority.
The outpost will support rangers in their mission to secure wildlife from poaching as well as safeguarding tourists visiting the area. Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s most popular tourist attractions and boasts 95 known species of mammals including buffaloes, hippopotami, crocodiles, elephants, leopards, lions and chimpanzees and over 620 species of birds. These make it highly susceptible to criminals, so the ranger outpost will help to enhance security for wildlife and tourists.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) took delivery of the 12-room facility at the official opening ceremony presided over by the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Col. (rtd) Tom Butime, together with His Excellency Attilio Pacifici, European Ambassador to Uganda. Funded by the European Union (EU) and supervised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in collaboration with International Union for Conservation of Nature-National Committee of The Netherlands (IUCN NL, the outpost has been built at Edwards Flats, which borders Virunga National Park (VNP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).
“Preserving the identity and the most valuable assets of a country is a key responsibility of every Government vis-a-vis its citizens and the world in general. That is what our partners here today do and that is why Europe has been with you supporting your efforts for many years,” said EU Ambassador Attilio Pacifici. “This outpost, among other forms of capacity support, is aimed at reducing poaching, safeguarding tourists visiting the area and promoting tourism activities and investments. Wildlife, which is the main tourist attraction in Uganda, exists because of a wide variety of habitats in Uganda most of which are unfortunately under threat even in the protected areas.”
“This is an important step in the cross-border collaboration to halt illegal activities and improve the safety of wildlife and people. EU’s action in the Greater Virunga landscape has helped build bridges between the Congolese and the Ugandan Wildlife Authorities, rangers and communities and has laid the foundation for effective transboundary collaboration to reduce wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade,” said Christine Lain, Senior Expert Environmental Justice at IUCN NL.
“Personnel are the most important resource in maximizing the impact of site-based law enforcement. The presence of this outpost means wildlife rangers can patrol the area more extensively to deter incidences and respond faster to any breaches that do occur,” said James Isiche, Regional Director IFAW East Africa.
The outpost with solar and water facilities will accommodate rangers and facilitate closer collaboration on transboundary patrols, including intelligence sharing and strengthening law enforcement capacity, between the two protected areas. It will curtail illegal activities along the Uganda-DR Congo border that is often used as a crossing point from either side by criminals.