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UWA Needs USD 13m to Relocate Rhinos from Ziwa Sanctuary

This followed a land wrangle between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR), the owners of the 16,000 acres of land where Rhinos are being bred and Rhino Fund Uganda who are managing the sanctuary. Capt Joseph Charles Roy, the proprietor of Ziwa Rhino & Wildlife Ranches has since ordered Rhino Fund Uganda to vacate the land.
Private Patrick Opio a ranger guarding rhinos at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola . Photo by Brian Luwaga

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The Uganda Wildlife Authority needs over USD 13 million to relocate rhinos from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary to the National Park. The authority recently said that the 33 endangered white rhinos at the sanctuary will be introduced to protected areas after completion of a feasibility study to identify a suitable location and conditions needed for the plan.

This followed a land wrangle between Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches (ZRWR), the owners of the 16,000 acres of land where Rhinos are being bred and Rhino Fund Uganda who are managing the sanctuary. Capt  Joseph Charles Roy, the proprietor of Ziwa Rhino & Wildlife Ranches has since ordered Rhino Fund Uganda to vacate the land.

Bashir Hangi, the spokesman of the Uganda Wildlife Authority says that through the Rhino Conservation and Management strategy, a feasibility study had been conducted earlier on to establish the requirements for introducing the rhinos to the wild. From the study, it was established that the rhinos could be introduced in Kidepo Valley, Murchison Falls National Park, and Ajai Wildlife Reserve.

Murchison Falls and Kidepo National Parks hosted the rhinos before but these were depleted due to rampant poaching during 1970-1980 insurgencies. Hangi says that the strategy is a blueprint which they can use to relocate rhinos from Ziwa Sanctuary or from another area to the protected areas. But, he adds, that a sum of USD 13 million (46.6 billion Shillings) is needed to transfer 30-50 rhinos to the areas, and meet the protocols to maintain them there.

He however noted that currently, the  Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has no funds to relocate the rhinos from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. They instead intend to engage the owner of land to ensure that they are kept there for some time in case he completely fails to agree with Rhino Fund Uganda.

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UWA rangers at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary; Corporal Simon Lakony and Private Patrick Opio told URN that, unlike other animals, the rhinos are kept under 24-hour surveillance to oversee their habits. It is reported that the rangers send an hourly report about the activities of rhinos to the surveillance unit at the sanctuary.

On Monday, the High Court in Kampala dismissed an application to stay the eviction of Rhino Fund Uganda from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. The Civil Division Registrar Jamson Karemani dismissed the application on grounds that it lacks merit and that it had been overtaken by events following government's decision to take over the sanctuary.

Rhino Fund Uganda, which has been managing sanctuary, petitioned the High Court challenging the decision by Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch Limited and Captain Joseph Charles Roy to evict them from 62 Square kilometer acres of land where it was managing 33 white rhinos. 

Augustine Mudukoyi the General Manager of Rhino Fund Uganda said that they will need compensation if they are to be kicked out of the management of the facility saying they have invested heavily in the project. The High Court is expected to hear the main suit filed challenging the breach of contract and cancellation of their license on the date which is not yet set.