Gov't to Operationalise Compensation Clause in Wildlife Act Early Next Year

Mugara says the regulations to guide compensation are in the final stages of development by the Ministry of Justice, adding that by the end of March next year the Act will be fully operational.
Minister Mugara meeting a section of the local community in Karusandara Sub County, Kasese District

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The long-awaited compensation clause in the new Wildlife Act will come into force early next year, the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Martin Magara Bahinduka has revealed.

President, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni assented to the amended Wildlife Act in 2019. The new Act provides for a compensation fund for persons who suffer bodily injury or are killed or suffer damage to his or her property by wild animals. 

The government will effect the compensation when the person’s legal representative submits a claim to the wildlife compensation verification committee. Then the committee shall verify a claim and submit it to the board together with its recommendation. Two percent of the collections from the park entry fees is allocated for compensation. 

Mugara says the regulations to guide compensation are in the final stages of development by the Ministry of Justice, adding that by the end of March next year the Act will be fully operational. 

The minister who was in Kasese last week meeting communities neighboring Queen Elizabeth National Park said that even when the sector is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the law provides that the ministry can go to the government for support to pay off the affected persons. 

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Mugara told URN that last financial year they collected about Shillings 300 million under the compensation fund.  He, however, says that compensation may not be an adequate solution to the human-wildlife conflicts noting that the government is prioritizing electric fencing. He says the ministry expects more money in June to extend the fence to about 60Kms that are yet to be covered. 

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The tourism minister also assured residents of Busunga parish in Katwe Sub County that the ministry will team up with independent surveyors and those from the lands Ministry to conclusively settle the boundary disputes between UWA and the local communities early next year. 

Charles Tumwesigye, the director of field operations at UWA, said that they are working with relevant authorities to ensure animals in gazetted places are controlled from crossing into community areas.  Even when the new Act is not fully operational, he says that they have been extending some support to persons affected by wildlife. 

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Gedeon Thembo Mujungu, the Busongora South MP says the absence of compensation has demoralized many people from engaging in agricultural work. He says members of parliament will ensure the clause is operationalized as specified by the minister. 

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Rosemary Malen, the Vice-Chairperson Youth Twetungura Association from Karusandara Sub County, says that the group took out a loan to invest in agriculture but last month their gardens were razed down by elephants. She says they are at risk of losing their security in absence of compensation. 

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Elder Jamad Bandebais starving after his food crop gardens were destroyed by elephants. He says the absence of compensation has retarded their growth. He is hopeful that once compensation is operationalized in the new law even UWA teams will step up their surveillance for fear of losing resources.   

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Beth Karoko from Busunga says the absence of compensation has escalated human-wildlife conflicts. She says people in the area are losing their livelihoods to wildlife and blames UWA for taking long to respond to the stray animals. 

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