Archive for May, 2011

Gorilla Tracking charges lowered

The Uganda Wild life Authority (UWA) has slashed fees for Uganda gorilla tracking permits by about 60% to both locals and foreigners.

UWA executive director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, announced on Tuesday in Kampala that the fee for East Africans – Ugandan trackers inclusive will be Ush.100,000/= from Ush 250,000, US$250 from US$475 for Foreign Residents and US$350 from US$500 for Foreign Non residents.

These promotional rates are applicable only for the low months of March, April, May, October and November. For the peak months rates will remain Ush 250,000, US$475 and US$500 respectively.

This, he explained is meant to attract more tourists to Bwindi impenetrable forest, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and other tourism sites in the country. It is now on record that Gorilla trekking provides over 50% of tourism revenue for Uganda.

From a recent census, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park now has a total of about 32 gorilla groups. Of the 32 groups, nine are habituated of which eight are utilized for tourism while one is used for research. The total number of gorillas in Bwindi is about 340 which is almost over half of the estimated 720 Mountain gorillas in the world.

The census found that the percentage proportion of groups with several males (multimale) fell from 45% in the 1997 and 2002 censuses to 23% in the 2006 census.

According to an UWA press statement; this represents a normal fluctuation in the dynamics of gorilla groups. Because of the increase in the gorilla population, UWA has started a habituation process for two more groups in abid to boost Tourism revenue and satisfy the increasing public demand for gorilla tracking.

According to the researchers- “overall, the Uganda gorilla population has been increasing at an approximate annual growth rate of 1%, which is indicative of a healthy and well protected population”.

Reports also indicate that, in 2008, tourism earned Uganda $590m with 84,300 visitors. The tourism sector employs over 70,000 people directly while 300,000 people are employed indirectly in activities like handcraft.

According to the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), tourist arrivals continue to increase thus have led to recent increases in forex earnings from $590m in 2008 to about US$650 m in 2010.

Kenyan Game Park threatened by Construction

NAIROBI-A construction boom risks destroying a game park on the Kenyan capital’s edge, where lions hunt in the shadows of skyscrapers, a wildlife official said.

Nairobi has a population of about three million people but that is expected to surge to eight million within two decades, fuelling demand for housing and commercial property.

Analysts say sky-high land prices in the capital are forcing Kenya’s middleclass to seek affordable plots on the outskirts.

Julius Kipng’etich, the managing director of the state-run Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), says human settlement expansion and growth in industries pose a threat to Kenya’s oldest national park next to the city.

Tourism is Kenya’s number two foreign exchange earner after tea, while construction was the fastest growing sector in east Africa’s biggest economy in 2010. The economy is projected to grow by 5.7% this year, from 5.2% in 2010.

“The upswing of the economy brings its own challenges, such as human settlements encroaching on protected areas. So the encroachment of the park comes from high class settlements and the slums that follow them,” Kipng’etich said.

Hundreds of acres around the park are mainly owned by nomadic Maasai, who sub-divide and sell land to outsiders eager to build, he said, as a family of warthogs roamed outside the KWS headquarters. The occasional spine-chilling roar from the park’s lions could be heard.

Established in 1946, the Nairobi National Park provides a chance for visitors to experience a safari game drive and view Kenya’s famed wildlife between meetings, Kipng’etich said.

Reuters

Rwanda generates $56million in first quarter of 2011 from Tourism

The tourism industry amassed US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) in revenues in the first quarter of 2011, from US$43 million during the same period last year, indicating a successful start for the year.

During the same period, 201,088 visitors have visited the country representing a 32 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

John Gara, The CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), attributed the increase to the diversification of Rwanda’s tourism products. The introduction of new products, particularly the 150 meters high canopy walkway in Nyungwe, is projected to attract at least 13,000 visitors this year.

“Due to the canopy walk, Nyungwe National Park activities almost doubled with an 89 percent increase in the first quarter of 2011,” Gara said, Thursday, during a press conference.

He added that in order to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in national parks, the Parliament and Senate voted in the compensation law to fence Akagera Park and contain wildlife within park boundaries and also compensate evicted families.

Gara said, “There was a 35 % increase in park activities registered in the three national parks,” He also noted that, “park activities in Akagera and Volcanoes parks increased by 20% and 39% respectively.”

He expressed optimism over the forthcoming Kwita Izina function scheduled for 18th June, which is a gorilla naming public event expected to massively boost the tourism sector, as well as attract several international celebrities.

“Kwita Izina will be held under the theme “Community development for sustained conservation” and will see 22 baby gorillas given named in a colorful event at Musanze. This is one of the major events in the tourism calendar, which we are all optimistic about,” Gara added.

As part of the country’s long term tourism master plan, Rwanda Development Board is to launch three birding routes outside the national parks.