The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has unveiled a Shs11.5 billion ($3.1 million) budget for the acquisition of one helicopter, a fixed wing aircraft and up to five unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to capacitate emergency response teams and help in wildlife management operations across national parks.
Presenting the budget before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, UWA executive director Andrew Seguya said the authority needed its own aircraft to end total dependency on Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) aviation assets when dealing with poaching emergencies and routine game ranger deployments.
The UAVs will be used for surveillance while the light fixed wing aircraft, with a seating capacity of between 8 and 12 people, would be used for conducting wildlife surveillance operations and aerial censuses.
“The helicopter we seek will help us with timely deployments of game rangers in the event of poaching incursions. We have created roads (in the national parks), but poachers do not walk along roads. They walk through the bush and we can’t get to them easily.
“A helicopter will help us conduct surveillance operations and when necessary, drop game ranger response teams at appropriate points. We have created a strong intelligence unit that gives us information, but we need aerial assets to improve our response capabilities,” Seguya said.
Altogether, the authority has proposed a budget of Shs 66 billion ($18 million) for 2017. Part of the budget will be used to develop the road network in the national parks. Meanwhile, the authority has acquired five luxury buses and three boats to ease the problem of tourist transport within the country’s ten national parks.