“That poison has not only affected the dead lions but the vultures that feasted on the carcass, the hyenas and the entire eco system," said Adoso.
A lion at Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC). Photo by Titus Kakembo
The tourism fraternity is calling upon government to give the culprits who poisoned 11 lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park a life sentence to serve as a deterrent for more crime.
Visibly furious and irate, they asked government to take the four arrested suspects to Luzira Maximum Prison and throw the keys to their cells in the deepest part of Lake Victoria.
"We are just battling to restock rhinos and cheetahs," lamented Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) Board Chair Barbra Adoso. "The law ought to punish the guilty heavily. That way, they will serve as examples to others hopping to amass wealth through the same means."
Adding that, the old laws that give them light sentences or fines are capable of making them lifetime poachers and destroyers of the environment. This was during a press conference held at AUTO headquarters.
"That poison has not only affected the dead lions but the vultures that feasted on the carcass, the hyenas and the entire eco system," said Adoso.
Gasping for breath like a charging lion protecting its territory Rose Uganda Safari Guides Association (USAGA) Vice president Herbert Byaruhanga in a similar tone said the industry is staggering back on its feet, unfortunately, saboteurs are crippling their effort.
"The culprits are practically sabotaging the economy by massacring the lions. What happened to the drones Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) promised to put in place," asked Byaruhanga.
The chairman Presidential Investor Round Table (PIRT) Amos Wekesa called for the need to sensitize the populace about the benefits of tourism to their lives.
"It is through resources brought here by tourists that government is able to build good roads, extend electricity to rural places and provide good health services." Wekesa said adding that unless the wanainchi (citizens) own the wildlife which is the strength of Uganda's tourism, the future is bleak.
"Tulambule ought to preach tourism benefits like creating market for drama, artifacts, agricultural produce, culture like Imbalu (in Bugisu) and oral literature."
Isaac Mujaasi of Uganda Wildlife Education Center (UWEC) says they answer thousands of questions about lions from curious visitors before they follow them up in their natural habitats like QENP.