Kaabong — Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has given the Uganda Peoples' Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) a go ahead to shoot on sight any poacher found in a National Park.
The president, who looked irritated, gave the directive in Kidepo while the National Park was marking 50 years of existence. It was recently voted by the Cable News Network as Africa's third wilderness park last year.
"That means there is sleeping in the army. How can someone fail to respect another person's home? If those Toposas and Turkanas come back to disturb our wildlife shoot them. If you can't do it then I will come and do it myself," said Museveni.
"Anybody who enters Uganda with a gun must be shot," added Museveni.
Museveni's statement came amid complaints from Uganda's Karamoja State Minister who indicated that poaching is still a key problem affecting the national parks including Kidepo.
"Mr. President I don't know what we can do. The Toposas from South Sudan and the Turkanas from Kenya are still armed, disturbing our people and raiding our wildlife," said State Minister for Karamoja Babra Nekesa Oudo.
Museveni was concerned that tourism which earned Uganda US$1.3billion last year and had 1.5million visitor arrivals was not respected by armed poachers.
He urged people in Karamoja to build more lodges, hostels and grow more food to tap into the benefits of tourism which is fast growing in the country.
"Spain receives 50million tourists a year and earns US$23billion from tourism yet they don't have all that we have in Uganda. Ugandans need to open their eyes and stop poaching," he added.
The President promised to further consolidate peace in the Karamoja region while improving the road network which are a major challenge to tourism in the area.
Uganda Wildlife Authority Executive Director Dr Andrew Seguya said that the disarmament program which created peace in Karamoja region has seen an increment in the revenues collected from Kidepo national park from Shs 295million in 2010 to Shs466 in 2012/13.
He gave UShs158million to the Matheneko Bokora wildlife group which money was earned from spot hunting activity that is usually done outside the park.
"This is just only 20percent of what was collected in 2013. If we collect more money, it means increased revenue for our communities hence the need to conserve our wildlife,: he said.
Dr Seguya also mentioned plans to establish new tourism activities at various identified rocks within Kidepo, develop the hot springs as tourism activity or open the road to Lorinyi hill and market it for hiking.
He also promised to introduce hiking in Morungole hills and transform old structures in Apoka tourism center into modern accommodation facilities.