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Munyonyo: Delegates panic after snake ‘walks in’ to ‘attend’ tourism meeting

There was drama recently at the newly built Convention Centre at the Speke Resort Munyonyo after a snake disrupted a high-level meeting.

This was during the launch of the EU Report titled ‘Towards a Sustainable Tourism Economy in Uganda’, when a snake unexpectedly disrupted the Tourism Minister’s speech.

The 3rd Uganda-EU Business Forum took place from March 5, 2024 to March 8, 2024, at the Speke Resort Commonwealth Convention Centre Munyonyo.

Unfortunately, during the launch of the EU Report titled ‘Towards a Sustainable Tourism Economy in Uganda’, a snake unexpectedly disrupted the Tourism Minister’s speech.

The supposedly harmless green snake caused chaos among the bystanders, until a courageous individual, along with the moderator, organized a rescue mission to capture the reptile and safely transport it in a bag for proper handling.

European Union Head of Programs, Luis Lachiguero, provided social media followers with an update about the uninvited guest during the event, while a commentator suggested that the snake should register online as it was escorted out.

“We have a snake? Was that planned ……. “? joked the honorable Minister for Wildlife and Antiquities Tom Butime who was presenting his keynote speech on the subject.

As if to drive home his point in his prepared speech, the honorable Minister emphasized the need for the promotion of sustainable tourism practices. “Our success lies in our dedication to preserving the delicate balance between growth and conservation. It is therefore imperative to understand that the flora and fauna are not just attractions for visitors, but endowments that must be safeguarded for posterity”.

Uganda’s commitment to preservation in regards to conservation goes beyond establishment of national parks, wildlife reserves and sanctuaries. These protected areas serve as vital habitats for a diverse array of wildlife including the endangered species in the whole world (including the snake).

However, our dedication to conservation extends further emphasizing the community-based tourism initiatives that empower local residents and create a symbiotic relationship between visitor and host communities”.

The Minister discussed the issue of Human Wildlife Conflict and emphasized the country’s dedication to sustainable tourism, which is demonstrated through the implementation of a revenue sharing program. Under this program, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) allocates 20% of its annual park revenue to the communities living near our national parks and wildlife reserves. The main objectives of this initiative are to minimize Human Wildlife Conflict and improve the living standards of households in the frontline villages.

“Human Wildlife Conflict arises from competition of resources such as land and water leading to incidences of crop raiding, property damage, loss of life and disruption of meetings like this one……. because I’m sure the snake is looking for something like water or quiet where it can rest, that’s why it has invaded us, so that is the Human Wildlife Conflict” concluded the honorable minister.

The minister unknowingly spoke the truth, as the Common Wealth Resort was constructed near Lake Victoria, causing the loss of wetland and habitat for various wildlife species, including snakes, birds, and a variety of plants and animals.

Implemented strategies to address Human Wildlife Conflict include the usage of electric fencing and excavation of trenches around the parks, installation of beehive fences in swampy regions, cultivation of tea as a protective barrier, and the growth of pepper as a profitable crop.

The honorable minister also highlighted additional concerns during the presentation, which encompassed the issue of invasive species endangering our plant and animal life, disrupting ecosystems, and causing imbalances. Additionally, the minister emphasized the ongoing challenge of poaching in various wildlife areas, which poses a threat to endangered species and undermines conservation efforts.

He revealed that invasive species management plans for all conservation areas have been developed and implemented.

He concluded by encouraging collaboration with the EU and by stating the unwavering commitment of Uganda to preserve protect and promote our natural resources and cultural heritage.

The report launch was led by Hugues Chantry, the Belgian Ambassador to Uganda and the Ambassador designate to South Sudan. He expressed concern about the lack of information available to Belgian tourists about Uganda, despite its many attractions such as the Ruwenzori ranges and the mountain gorillas. Chantry emphasized the need to improve Uganda’s branding as a tourism destination, suggesting that using their own language would have a significant impact. He also recommended promoting cultural heritage in Karamoja to encourage longer stays by guests. Additionally, Chantry stressed the importance of adapting to climate change and focusing on local and regional tourism.

Other panelists in the session were eminent private sector personalities including the youthful Aysha Mayanja – Ewaffe Cultural Village, Amos Wekesa – Uganda Lodges, Theo Vos -Karatunga Cultural Foundation, Walter Odokworot Umoja Wildlife Conservancies of Uganda and Lilly Ajarova Uganda Tourism Board Executive Director.

(Business Focus)

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