The Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) has directed for the immediate temporary closure of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola District due to unsolved land ownership wrangles.
According to UWA, these land wrangles were a risk and could endanger the lives of the rear species that were being bred at the now closed sanctuary.
In statement issued by the Uganda World Authority (UWA) said as part of their mandate of protecting wildlife resource in Uganda they, could not risk the loss of the beautiful species.
This mandate is granted under the Wild Life Act of 2019.
“UWA has taken over full control of the security of the rhinos at Ziwa Sanctuary in order to secure the rhinos at the sanctuary,” part of the statement reads.
UWA has also deterred any tourism activities and public access into the sanctuary as part of the activities being carried out at the sanctuary with immediate effect, according to the notice.
However, the Authority noted that the UWA was not party to the conflicts between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches and The Rhino Fund Uganda, a non-government organization that has been managing rhinos at the sanctuary.
“The closure was part of the plan to enable government engage both parties with hope to find everlasting solutions to end the conflict,” said UWA.
In the meantime, the Authority will deploy more security personnel so as to protect the sanctuary from any perpetrators.
The five-year-old rivalry has mainly been among three parties including; the Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Rancher, Capt. Joseph Charles Roy, who is currently the owner of the land and The Rhino Fund Uganda.
Earlier last week, tension had sparked off in the sanctuary as unknown people who presented themselves as tourists traveling in a coaster bus descended on the rhino sanctuary offices and vandalized office equipment including computers and documents.
This was confirmed by Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson, Mr. Isa Ssemwogerere that the police had arrested of over 27 people in connection with an incident.
He however noted that the suspects were to be produced in court as soon as the police had been done with the investigations and preparing their file.
The incident happened when Ms. Angie Genade, the Executive Director of Rhino Fund, had gone to attend an emergency meeting in Kampala between officials from the Uganda wildlife, Rhino Fund Uganda and Capt. Joseph Charles Roy, who owns the land, concerning the very land issues.
Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary was established in 2005 to reintroduce the southern white rhinoceros to Uganda.
The long-term goal of the sanctuary was to build a sustainable rhinoceros population and relocate rhinos back to their original habitat in Uganda’s protected areas.
The sanctuary is home to at least 40 mammals and reptilian species including monkeys, antelopes, hippopotamuses, crocodiles plus numerous bird species.
Ziwa sanctuary is located in Kafu River Basin, near Nakitoma village, off Kampala–Gulu Highway, in Nakasongola District.