The Executive director Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) Mr James Musinguzi has said the addition of tigers to the big cat family at the centre after decades will help boost tourism both domestically and internationally.
“We are glad to welcome the tigers to UWEC after six decades. The Bengal tigers, sometimes called Indian tigers is a species that resonates with the Indian community which has over the months proven to be loyal to the animals at UWEC” he said.
Mr Musinguzi made the remarks on Wednesday while addressing press to welcome a pair of tigers, male and female aged two years and three months that were flown into the country from South Africa early this year.
“The two tigers arrived on March 7th before the national lockdown and have since been under the watchful eye of our animal caregivers and veterinary specialists at the quarantine and veterinary hospital” he said.
Musinguzi said there is need to protect tigers which are classified as endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red list of Threatened Species” he said.
“Over the last century, subspecies of tigers dwindled from eight to five due to hunting as trophies and habitat loss from intensive logging and development. The remaining subspecies including the one we have here need protection” he said.
Mr Musinguzi said the COVID pandemic has affected UWEC’s daily operations with the centre loosing Shs 2.5 billion since it’s temporary closing in March 2020 to June 2020 and thereafter has lost Shs 2 billion since July 2020 up to date.
“The pair’s debut deemed to be a dawn of hope which fulfills our conventional roles of education, conservation, research and recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pairs move to Uganda was recommended by the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which demands that the large cats are managed in an Ex-situ environment” he said.
Mr Musinguzi said the previous the tigers that were at the centre out lived their life span and passed on.
“We got the new ones for free through an exchange program with Mystic Monkeys and Feathers Wildlife Park South Africa who we gave 25 monkeys in exchange for the two tigers” he said.
The manager education and information at UWEC Mr David Musingo said UWEC will soon bring in more animal species including kangaroo’s as it embarks on setting up regional zoos across the country.
“We are moving across the country, working with different partners, we are going to set up satellite conservation centres valued at Shs 1 bn” he said. The Director animal and Horticulture Ms Rachel Mbabazi said Africa’s temperature is favorable for the tigers where suitable habitant has been constructed for them.
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