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Ugandans value their wildlife, first ever survey shows

In the first nationwide survey of its kind in Uganda, 79% percent of respondents said it would matter a great deal to them if the country’s wildlife disappeared, while only 5% said they did not care about their wildlife heritage.

2,300 Ugandans based in both rural and urban areas participated in the survey, which was carried out by Uganda Conservation Foundation, WildAid and Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Nationwide, 80% said wildlife is “an important source of income for the country.” Sixty percent said “it is important for their national identity and heritage,” and 56% said they are proud of Uganda’s wildlife. Fifty-eight percent said tourists help the Ugandan economy.

With regard to the connection between wildlife and tourism, only 12% were aware that tourists come to Uganda to see wildlife, while the ministry of tourism sees wildlife as the major driver of Ugandan tourism. Uganda is one of only three countries where tourists can see mountain gorillas.

“Wildlife is hugely important for tourism,” said Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Kiwanda Godfrey Ssuubi. “We are working to improve the infrastructure for our tourism industry in and around the parks and to better integrate local communities, who already receive 20% of park gate receipts.”

When asked about national parks, 68% said national parks are important for the Ugandan economy; 55% said they are proud of Uganda's parks and protected areas reserved for wildlife; and 52% said they are important for Uganda’s national identity and heritage.

Asked to rate the relative need for protection for specific species, 55% said elephants needed the most protection, followed by 22% for lions, 18% for gorillas and 4% for pangolins.  

Eighty-three percent thought elephants were being killed for their ivory. Twenty-eight percent believed it was because elephants eat people’s crops.

Seventy-five percent felt more should be done to stop wildlife trafficking, 47% that it is cruel to animals, 43% that it is against their national interest, and 38% that it involves corruption/corrupt people.

The organizations will be launching a major conservation awareness campaign in June featuring ambassadors such as Salvado, Irene Ntale, Anne Kansiime, key faith members of the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, and members of Uganda Cranes Football and Rugby Sevens Team.