The Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) which is commonly referred to as the Entebbe Zoo has run out of cash and the over 250 animals could be staring at death by starvation.
The country went into a partial lockdown in March over coronavirus, closing schools, and borders which have been the major source of income for the Zoo.
The facility located in Entebbe houses over 250 wild animals that feed on approximately 1000kilograms of food on a daily.
However, with the closure of schools and the prohibition of movements, the centre is now out of avenues to generate cash, that would help sustain the insatiable appetite of the animals.
According to UWEC Executive Director James Musinguzi, the centre has not been able to make money for the last two months and now they are surviving on donations from different parties.
“No money is coming in since we are closed, but we can not compromise the welfare of the animals,” Musinguzi said.
Musinguzi said that the animals need to be in better health if they are to continue supporting Uganda’s tourism industry once COVID-19 crisis is no more.
But where is the hope, the Ministry of Education has not pronounced itself yet on when the schools will reopen, which leaves UWEC’s financial avenue in a ditch.
According to the Minister of Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, the centre obtains the highest traffic in the first and second terms for schools.
“At this time of the first term and second term we would be having a number of schools visiting us, unfortunately, we don’t expect them any more,” Kiwanda said.
The animals do not reduce their feeding habits even when you are not making money and it is not possible to explain to them about the COVID-19 crisis, the question therefore is, what next?
Already UWEC has lost at least Shs1.5b in donor funds that were being used for feeding animals strictly, while the rest of the country resources have been concentrated on maintaining the human population through food relief.
Now Kiwanda insists that the government will have to provide food relief to animals as well.
“Tourism is one of the most hit industry in this crisis. We expect to give relief food to animals as well,” he said.
He also appealed to the public to donate to UWEC to help them sustain the animals.