The President also ordered the reappointment of Capt. Joy Roy and that the RFU enters into joint management with him over the Rhino’s and equal share of all revenues generated from the project.
President Yoweri Museveni has directed the disbandment of the current board of the Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) and the constitution of a new team of directors aimed at ending the impasse over the ownership of land and management of Rhinos at the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola.
The President also ordered the reappointment of Capt. Joy Roy and that the RFU enters into joint management with him over the Rhino's and equal share of all revenues generated from the project.
In a meeting at State House Entebbe last week, attended by Minister of Tourism Ephraim Kamuntu, RFU Board Members Daudi Makobore (Vice Chairman) and RFU Executive Director Angie Renade, the President acknowledged that Capt. Roy as the genuine land owner of the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary who could not just be wished away. Also in attendance together with Captain Roy were Bonnie Wendy and lawyer Richard Omongole of Omongole and Company advocates. Uganda Wildlife Authority officials led by their Executive Director Sam Mwandha also attended the meeting.
Sources said Museveni recognised Roy's significant contribution to the existence of Rhino's in Uganda, noting that had he not contributed the land, the Rhino's would not have had a sanctuary in Uganda. The President noted that Capt. Roy had a legitimate interest in his land and that the he enters into a fresh five year joint agreement with RFU to manage the welfare of the Rhino's and that both parties share revenues generated from the venture equally and that it was only after the five years that the two parties could determine whether they could part ways.
The board was also expanded from the initial seven to nine members with and RFU will have four representatives after Genade requested they have more representatives on the board because of the several sponsors they were having, Capt. Roy would have 3 representatives while Government would be represented by two members.
The President final intervention puts to end an acrimonious fall out between RFU and Capt. Roy who were embroiled in a litany of court cases over the management of the Rhino sanctuary. Capt. Roy accused Genade of attempting to grab his 16,000 acres of land he had leased to RFU while Genade accused Capt. Roy of wanting to evict them from the ranch.
Last week's meeting was the second meeting the Museveni was holding with the two groups. The first meeting was held in September after Museveni received four different petitions from RFU led by Genade, Captain Roy, Nakasongola District and the another one from Nakasongola Resident District Commissioner, Dan Muganga.
In the September meeting, Museveni gave each of the two party's time to explain their case and after listening ruled out that the land in question belonged to Capt. Roy and nobody would forcefully take it away from him. He however tried to ask both parties to reconcile and run the business jointly but the Roy family rejected the move noting that they had tried to engage RFU way back before chaos at the sanctuary escalated but were not given the opportunity to run their lodge.
Wendy noted in the meeting that all they wanted was RFU out of the sanctuary and that they planned to transform the Zziwa Rhino sanctuary into a private game reserve and that the Rhinos would stay and that they had been granted permission to introduce other animals at the ranch by the Uganda Wildlife Authority. At the end of the September meeting, Museveni directed State House head of legal department Flora Kiconco to review documents handed over by bought parties and report back to him within the two weeks.
This would not be the first time attempts are being made at resolving the Sanctuary wrangles. Late last year, Kamuntu met Roy and Genade to try and resolve the impasse but failed. The meeting comes in the wake of a series of stories published by Saturday and Sunday Vision indicating that the fate of over 24 Rhinos at the Zziwa Rhino ranch sanctuary in Nakitooma village in Nakasongola district appears to hang in balance following a rift an impasse between Captain Charles Joy Roy the owner of the ranch and RFU. The sanctuary initially a ranch, is owned by Captain Roy however he accuses the RFU of trying to drum up public support and sympathy in order to blackmail him and grab his land.
Captain Roy was among the few who initiated the idea of re-introduction and breeding program of Rhinos into Uganda by offering land for the conservation of Rhinos. He also used his own plane to transfer some of the Rhino's that were donated from the US and brought others from Kenya including setting up the entire infrastructure which included digging up boreholes and securing using donations to set up a fence.
He later entered into a 30 year lease with RFU but terminated it last year after they failed to honor terms of their agreement. In return the RFU threw Roy and his representatives out of the board and used police to deny them access to the ranch.