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Uganda’s Wildlife Protectors Become Perpetrators

Uganda’s wildlife authorities say the halt to tourism income caused by COVID-19 has pushed many people who depended on tourists into poaching the very animals the industry depends on.  Uganda’s national parks recorded a doubling of wildlife poaching during the pandemic compared to this time last year.  Uganda’s conservationists are looking for alternative income sources for the communities to stop the poaching. Between February and June of this year, the Uganda Wildlife Authority recorded 367 poaching cases across the country, more than double the 163 cases recorded during a similar period in 2019. John Makombo, the Uganda Wildlife Authority director for conservation, attributes the increase to the COVID-19 lockdown, lost income for people who work in the tourism industry and inadequate human resources to cover all the conservation areas. Tourism is usually Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner, reaping $1.6 billion in the 2018-2019 financial year alone. But, with the closure of the tourism sector due to COVID-19, Makombo says the tourism sector is not taking in any money, making the national parks vulnerable to poachers.