Kampala – The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has closed Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to the public with immediate effect until further notice.
According to the statement from the authority’s communications manager Bashir Hangi, the closure has been triggered by a persistent land dispute.
“The closure has been triggered by the persistent misunderstanding between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR), the owners of the land where the rhinos are being bred, and Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), an NGO that has been managing the rhinos at the sanctuary,” part of the statement reads.
“In line with UWA’s mandate of protecting wildlife resources in Uganda as per the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, UWA has taken over full charge of the Rhinos at Ziwa Sanctuary in Nakasongola district in order to secure the rhinos at the sanctuary.”
“For this to be effectively done, UWA, has with immediate effect, closed ZIwa Rhino Sanctuary to the public and as such, no tourism activities will be undertaken until further notice.”
The authority has said the conflicts could harm the rhinos.
“UWA realized that the conflict could potentially compromise the safety of the rhinos and took this decision to avert the threat. Therefore, the closure is a temporary measure as government engages the two parties with a view of mooting a lasting solution to the conflict.”
“UWA is not party to the conflicts between Ziwa and Wildlfife Ranches and Rhino Fund Uganda and we reiterate our impartiality in the matter while stressing our mandate as an institution established to protect Uganda’s wildlife heritage.”
On 15 April, 2021, SoftPower News learnt that the sanctuary in Nakitoma was attacked by men armed with hammers and machetes. They destroyed an office and accomodation rooms. They were all arrested following quick response by Uganda Police Force. According to the DPC of Nakasongola, the men said they were hired from Kampala.