After the killing of a well known silverback mountain gorilla named Rafiki in Bwindi Impenetrable National park, conservationists have come out to account the loss that the tourism sector in Uganda is going to incur.
Eng. Ivan Batuma, the chairperson of the Kigezi Tourism Cluster, also the board member of Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has said the Rafiki’s family was earning Uganda approximately Shs 18 million per day.
“You know every tourist who wants to see the gorilla pays 600 USD and allow eight people to see them per day on each particular family. So that around 4,800 USD which is around Shs18 million per day. that’s a lot. When you multiply it in a year that’s it a lot of money for the country,” Batuma said.
Batuma made the remarks while talking to our reporter on Saturday in Kabale town.
Batuma expressed concerns that Rafiki’s family could disperse, now that the head was no more which would be a huge loss to the country.
“You can look at it as if it’s one gorilla but you know gorillas live in families and the silverback is normally the head of the family. So if the silverback no more, then the family is likely to disintegrate and the sector won’t be ready for tourism,” he said.
Rafiki, estimated to be 25-years old was reported missing on 1st June and his body was found the next day injured on the upper left part of the abdomen.
Felix Byamukama, Evarist Bampabenda, Valence Museveni and Yonasi Mubangisi all residents of Murole village in Kisoro District were arrested in connection with the killing of one the world’s endangered species.
Byamukama, one of the suspects confessed to have speared Rafiki while he was hunting for a wild pig.
Herbert Byaruhanga, the Director of Bird Uganda Safaris and the Secretary General of Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) condemned the killing, saying it was unfortunate considering the fact that the killers are neighbors of the gorillas who know their importance.
However, Byaruhanga said it’s an eye opener to the tourism stakeholders and other conservationists.
“We’ve not had time to assess the impact of our conservation efforts. The community conservation rangers I think haven’t done their right job because the killers come from the community there. Gorillas are Uganda’s goldmine and therefore we must come out and clear the name by enforcing more conservation measures as the law takes its course on the killers” Byaruhanga said.
Uganda earned $1.6 billion from the tourism sector in the 2018/2019 financial year, making the sector the country’s leading foreign currency earner for the fifth year in a row.
There are at least 19 gorilla families in the Bwindi National Park. Rafiki was living in the Nkuringo family in the southern sector of Bwindi National Park .
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