“We shall continue to be a center for excellence in rhino breeding. We shall continue to engage and work with the neighboring communities, Nakasongola District Local Government, and partners in delivering the objectives of the rhino breeding at the sanctuary,” said the UWA chief while addressingbdistrict leaders led by their Vice Chairperson, Tingira Samuel, ahead of the opening.
Fees structures remain unchanged since before the closure.
When asked to share her sentiments on the development, Co-Founder of Rhino Fund Uganda, Dr. Eve Lawino Abe, said she is resigned to let UWA and ZRWR manage the sanctuary. She, however, credited RFU for coming a long way to achieve a lot. “The aim of RFU is to establish a viable population and to make Uganda a rhino state once again,” she tweeted.
The private sector who had sustained the sanctuary welcomed the news. Yvone Hilgendorf, Managing Director of Manya Africa Tours, was elated at the reopening having made reservations prior, only for the sanctuary to be closed soon after. “We are very happy that the Rhino Sanctuary has reopened again. The most important goal is to ensure that the protection and growth of numbers of the rhinos is ensured. And we, as the private sector and tour companies, ensure that we will bring visitors who can enjoy the rhinos from very close and generate an income for their protection. Most of all, safaris which lead to Murchison Falls have a stopover at the sanctuary,” she said.
About Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary
Located 170 km northwest of the capital of Kampala, the झिवा गेंडा अभयारण्य was established in 2005 in a bid to introduce the southern white rhinos to Uganda, and it was mutually agreed between UWA and RFU the latter manages the breeding program in Uganda.
The sanctuary also hosts prolific birdlife including habitat to the rare shoebill stork, oribi, bushbuck, Uganda kob, hippo, and 15 mammalian species.
The long-term goal of the sanctuary is to build a sustainable rhino population and to relocate them to Uganda’s protected areas. The sanctuary started with 6 animals, 4 received from Solio Ranch in Kenya and 2 donated by Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Orlando, Florida (USA).
The rhino population has since grown to 33 individuals. In line with the goal of establishment of the sanctuary, UWA recently completed a feasibility study to reintroduce them in the wild.
Black and white rhinos were once widespread in Uganda, but the1979 Liberation War that ousted President Idi Amin Dada saw the virtual extermination of white rhinos in Uganda. The northern white rhino was last seen in 1982 in Murchison Falls National Park while the last eastern black rhino was last seen in 1983 in Kidepo Valley National Park.
Efforts to reintroduce the rhinos back to Uganda were conceived in 1997 by Ray Victorine and Dr. Eve Lawino Abe in 1997 culminating into the reintroduction of the southern white rhino at the Uganda Wildlife and Conservation Education Centre in December 2001.
In August 2015, the late Hon. Maria Mutagamba, then Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, launched Uganda’s “Ten-year National Rhino Strategy” to provide a legal framework for the species’ management, while providing guidance and direction for rhino conservation efforts in Uganda.
A happy ending for the rhinos for now guarantees the future of tourism and an otherwise very successful breeding program after a sad history of wars and poaching that had threatened to drive rhinoceros into extinction along with their ancestors.