This is an opinion piece by Ugandan journalist and advocate Moses Sserwanga regarding the recent killing of three female mountain gorillas and one male silverback gorilla in the Virunga National Park along the Uganda-DR Congo border. He is highly critical of the Ugandan government and its lack of effort to protect these animals. It is very frustrating to read the following....
Veteran activists are sunk in gloom –resigned to the back seat as our wildlife slides into absurdity. So what’s the cause of the wildlife crack-up? The obvious cause for this is the government’s flouting of the law and its failure to put in place a well articulated policy on environment conservation and wildlife protection. The government has both quietly and publicly encouraged or condoned illegal activity in the national protected areas like Mabira and Queen Elizabeth National Park where hundreds of herdsmen continue to occupy a wildlife sanctuary.
This ineptitude can perhaps explain why government kept silent while the rest of the world was mourning the brutal killing of three female mountain gorillas and one male silverback gorilla in the Virunga National Park along the Uganda-DR Congo border.
What is great thoughis that he makes the economic argument in favor of the mountain gorillas' protection. It would be great if people followed morals and ethics, but we live in a society where money speaks louder than any family tie or human value.
According to the International Gorilla Conservation Programme (IGCP) – a coalition of the Fauna & Flora International, African Wildlife Foundation and the World Wide Fund for Nature- the annual revenue earned directly from gorilla tourism is estimated at $3 million.
When combined with the additional income received by, for example, hotels and restaurants, the total figure may exceed $20 million shared between Uganda , Rwanda, and DR Congo.
Therefore the long-term success of gorilla tourism hinges on the enthusiasm and commitment of government and the local communities around the parks to protect these animals.
Photo by Nailbender