Nakasongola, Uganda: The Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has reopened Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district for tourist activity.
UWA closed Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary which sits on over 16,000 acres of land, and home to 33 endangered White Rhinos in mid-April this year with a message that no tourism activity would be sanctioned until further notice.
The decision came amidst bickering between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR), which owns the land hosting the sanctuary, and Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that manages the Rhinos.
According to the press statement issued at the time, UWA said they realized that the conflicts could potentially compromise the safety of the Rhinos and they took the decision to avert the threat as a temporary measure till the parties involved settled the matter.
The conflict also saw a dubious attack by 28 men pretending to be tourists who raided the sanctuary on April 15, 2021, and destroyed office property in what is believed to have been an attempt to evict the staff of Rhino Fund Uganda. The suspects revealed that they were hired from Kampala to execute the mission.
Isah Ssemwogerere, the Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson said that the suspects were slapped with charges including; aggravated robbery, theft and causing malicious damage to property.
UWA also said that it took over the security of the sanctuary, which is within its mandate to protect wildlife resources in Uganda as per Uganda Wildlife Act, 2019.
Now, after close to two months with the sanctuary under lock and key, the wild-life body has announced the reopening in a joint statement issued by the UWA Executive Director Sam Mwandah and Charles Joseph Roy, the Managing Director of Ziwa Rhino & Wildlife Ranches.
The two parties have in the statement copy of which Uganda Radio Network (URN) has accessed, agreed to jointly manage the sanctuary & continue the Rhino breeding program after the departure of Rhino Fund Uganda, the NGO that was managing the Rhinos.
Bashir Hangi, the UWA publicist tells URN that the 33 Rhinos are in good health. He adds that the sanctuary has now resumed all tourism activities.