Uganda wildlife numbers 'soar'

2010-09-25 14:04

Kampala - Wildlife populations at Uganda's major national parks have boomed over the past 10 years with the expulsion of rebels contributing to a fall in poaching, the authority told AFP Saturday.

New statistics from data collected in 2009 and 2010 show that among several major species population sizes more than doubled since 1999, when the previous census was conducted.

"We've been able to reduce poaching by offering increased benefits to the local communities, more ways for them to share in money that comes from wildlife," Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesperson Lillian Nsubuga said.

While the increases are evident nationwide, Nsubuga said the expulsion of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from northern Uganda largely led to animal population surges in Murchison Falls National Park.

Much of Murchison Falls, one of Uganda's most popular tourist destination, falls within Gulu district, the epicentre of the LRA war, and wildlife officials were largely unable to control poaching during the conflict.

Gulu has been free of LRA violence for more than four years and the rebels have relocated to neighbouring countries in the region.

There are now more than 11 000 buffalos in Murchison Falls, up from 3 889 in 1999, according the authority's statistics.

The Uganda kob population has increased to from 7 458 to 36 640.

Giraffe, impala, zebra and waterbuck populations all showed three-fold increases nationally.

Nsubuga attributed the rises to "good practices and improved monitoring."

"We can't say that poaching in no longer a problem, but we have been able to reduce it," she said.