November 22, 2010

Future Golf Course In Uganda Could Threaten Wildlife

Environmental activists said on Monday that they are plan to fight a project that has the backing of Uganda's president to build a golf course in the country's largest and best-known national park.
President Yoweri Museveni ordered the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to allow the Madhvani Group last week to build a golf course in Murchison Falls National Park, which is a wildlife reserve.

"We shall do whatever it takes, including legal action. We'll block it. We'll get an injunction," Frank Muramuzi, head of Uganda's National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE), told AFP.

Museveni said November 17 on a trip to the park with the group's chief Mayur Madhvani that "there is no problem with a golf course."

"Golf has no fumes. It is not a factory to generate fumes, it is just grass. This must be resolved. Tell UWA that I want this to be done," Museveni said, regarding the proposed development.

According to the group's website, Madhvani's assets in Uganda exceed $200 million, including large agricultural and tourism operations.

The group operates at least three lodges, including the recently refurbished Chobe Lodge at Murchison and Paraa, located in the same park, along with Mweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Muramuzi argued that the golf course would negatively impact wildlife migration and grazing patterns.

He also said that if the project moves forward, it proves that Uganda's wildlife body is powerless against presidential will.

"This is a country that has laws. To do something like this, you need to do an environmental impact assessment. You need to carefully gazette the area. None of the has happened," he told AFP.

"If UWA allows this course to be built, just because the president said it's OK, they should pack their bags and go home," he added.

Murchison Falls is one of Uganda's most popular tourist destinations, with large populations of elephant, giraffe, antelope and buffalo.

The park was ravaged by poachers through the 1980s and 1990s as persistent conflict in northern Uganda prevented wildlife officials from protecting animals.  However the populations have recovered significantly in recent years.


Image Caption: Giraffe grazing in Murchison Falls National Park. Credit: Wikipedia    


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