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- On March 11, 2014
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The president of Uganda during a grand tour to Kidepo National Park – a remote savannah park located along the border with conflict – hit Sudan as well as the northern part of Kenya – said that armed poachers operating in national parks should be ‘shot on sight’ because of the damage they could inflict on tourism to the central African nation, according to his spokesman.
In his words, the president was quoted telling the park security guards “Those with guns who cross to disturb, you should shoot them.”
The president’s spokesman, Tamale Mirudi, confirmed the comments, saying Museveni was “just stressing the importance of security in the national park, preservation of wildlife and the safety of the tourists.” The president supported this saying Uganda tourism can be crippled for years when one traveller is killed in a national park,” he said.
“The president is not saying that all the poachers should be killed on site. What the president is saying is stressing the importance of security in national parks, even if that requires shooting them on site to save the tourism industry in the country,” he added.
Income coming from Uganda tours is estimated to be about 3.7 percent of the country’s GDP, according to World Bank figures, although the sector is seen as ripe for potential growth as would-be visitors look further afield from the more traditional and developed Kenya Safaris or Tanzania.
Museveni is not the first leader in the region to call for a no-nonsense crackdown on poaching. Last year, police and wildlife officers in Tanzania started a crackdown on suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation, operating under what was reported to be a government-ordered shoot-to-kill policy and making sweeping arrests.
But members of the security forces taking part were accused of numerous killings, incidents of torture and rapes, leading to the operation being halted and the sacking of four top government ministers. Poaching has risen sharply in Africa in recent years, driven by demand from Asia and the Middle East for rhino horns and ivory.