HomeENVIRONMENTUWA Warns Pastoralists as Wildfire Threatens L. Mburo National Park 

UWA Warns Pastoralists as Wildfire Threatens L. Mburo National Park 

Joshua Nahamya

Kiruhura  

National parks in Uganda struggle with uncontrolled fires set by farmers that torch the farms neighboring the parks to get better pastures for their animals.

This was revealed by Uganda Wildlife officials engaging journalists at Lake Mburo National Park over the weekend.

According to Hilary Agaba, Warden ecological monitoring and research officer at L. Mburo NP, “as park officials we have overburdened ourselves to put off the wild fires set by pastoralists who burn the shrubs especially during the end of the dry season to get green pastures during the rainy season”. 

“We have the challenge of fire management whereby the cattle keepers set fire so that when the areas are burnt, they can get grass to graze their animals,” Agaba said

A herd of giraffes at L.Mburo NP.

According to Bashir Hangi, Senior Communication Manager at UWA, other challenges in the park include; human-wildlife conflict, poaching, illegal grazing, drought, and rapid human growth among others.

He said the wildfire is the biggest challenge that scares animals in the parks thus reducing tourist attractions in the gazette.

“There is what we call control burning which is deliberate to make some areas regenerate new pasture for the animals but sometimes fire comes from the neighbourhood but because we have the fire lines, we are able to contain them before it crosses the fire lines” Hangi explained

Asingwire Rabecca-Tour guide explaining what takes place at Lake Mburo NP. Joshua Nahamya

He added “Certainly the fire will cause damage to the animals and other properties. We encourage farmers not to light fires unnecessarily and in case they do, let them inform us so that our fire team can assemble the firefighting mechanism to protect the parks from burning”.

Hangi said, “We are not responsible for the safety of the facilities outside the park but we have fire lines at the boundaries of every park to prevent wildfires from inconveniencing our beautiful animals”.

“Sometimes when we do control burning; people think we are just burning indiscriminately. But we want to encourage any facility to be put up, one is supposed to have a fire management strategy in place to protect the wild fire from blowing to the park or reserves” Hangi said

He encouraged journalists to promote domestic tourism by rallying the public to explore L. Mburo NP to enjoy beautiful sceneries, wildlife antiquities, reptiles, and birds.

UWA also urged investors to build affordable hotels that would enable locals to stay overnight while visiting such places.

“As UWA we cannot do much, we must work with partners and for this to happen you need to attract potential investors who can invest in some of the tourism products like accommodation facilities, and children’s parks among others,” Hangi said

Part of the journalists enjoy a boat drive at L.Mburo NP.

He said UWA targets an annual population of at least 5 million tourists which currently stands at 360,000.

“We are aggressively marketing wildlife products so that we are able to attract more tourists into the country. At least we should be able to talk about 5 mln visitors in a year as a country and last financial year UWA had about 360,000 visitors in all our parks so we still have a long way to go” Hangi said

Lake Mburo National Park is Uganda’s smallest savannah National Park measuring 10 square kilometres of shallow conservation water Lake in Uganda.

It is conveniently close to the Mbarara-Masaka highway connecting Kampala to the parks of western Uganda like Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi impenetrable NP among others.

Lake Mburo forms part of a 50 km-long wetland system linked by a swamp, together with 13 other lakes in the area. Five of these lakes lie within the park’s borders and are home to healthy populations of various animals, including buffalos, warthogs, and hippos.

In 2015, a herd of giraffes consisting of 11 females and 4 males were translocated to L. Mburo National Park, and today, these giraffes have grown to almost 70 in number next to Kidepo National Park.

Lake Mburo’s notable bird species include over 315 species, and it is the best place to view acacia-associated birds, such as the mosque swallow, black-bellied bustard, bare-faced-go-away bird, pied kingfisher, and reptile starling. A handful of birds are mainly recorded in the park, such as the southern ground hornbill and black-throated.

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