The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) is seeking Shs 11.5 billion for the purchase of a chopper and drones to ensure appropriate response in managing wildlife in national parks.
According to the budget breakdown, the authority wants Shs 7 billion for the purchase of a chopper and Shs 4.5 billion for the drones.
Dr Andrew Seguya, the UWA executive director, says currently they depend on vehicles and sometimes the UPDF chopper to handle emergencies like deployment of rangers, which isn’t sustainable.
Seguya told the Tourism, Trade and Industry committee of parliament yesterday that the helicopter will help to respond to incursions in the parks quickly as opposed to waiting for vehicles that take hours to arrive.
“This helicopter will help us to deploy, because, you see we’ve created roads but poachers don’t walk by the roadsides. They walk in the bushes. So, we can’t get to them that easily. A helicopter will be very easy for me to fly and drop my rangers at any point.
Two, in terms of response, because right now we have a strong intelligence unit that gives us information…If you get an incursion you drop rangers with 15 minutes and solve the issue. But also it is going to help us to do surveillance”, Seguya.
He was presenting the authority budget for FY 2017/2018 worth Shs 66 billion. The Bufumbira East MP, Nsaba Buturo supported the move by the authority to acquire a chopper, says its advantages are overwhelming.
Seguya also said they need drones to monitor the park. He cited the challenge they find in monitoring Murchison Falls national game park, which is over 1,344 square miles. He says with drones, officers can sit in office and view images of poachers and wildlife in the parks.
According to the proposal, UWA also want a fixed winged 8-12 seater aircraft, for conducting wildlife aerial census, surveillance and monitoring. Fixed-wing light sport aircraft costs between $60,000 and $130,000 on the market.