The Uganda Tourism Board CEO, Lilly Ajarova has expressed concern over the future of Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary in Mukono district.
The 100-acre piece of land that is 95% as a forest inhabited by rescued chimpanzees is victim to the rising Lake Victoria waters that have since engulfed over 20% of the facility.
On Thursday, the UTB boss visited the facility to assess the impact of the rising water.
“This particular happening with the level of water is unprecedented and has completely left Ngamba in a sorry state, all tourist facilities, shop, restaurants; cottages for accommodation are in water,”Ajarova said .
Ajarova, who was until January 2019 the Executive director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, the organization which manages Ngamba Island said in the past, the facility hosted over 6000 tourists per year and these would contribute $300,000 and this was the major source of income but noted this is no more.
“Looking at what is happening here, all that is gone. It is not about international borders being opened for tourists to come because infrastructure is all gone. It took over 20 years of investment to where the facility was but all has been destroyed in a few months.”
She noted that it would require a lot of investment to put the facility to the status it was before the rising Lake Victoria levels invaded it.
“I am in total shock to see even the staff and chimpanzee facilities which are more in wards in the land being at threat from water. It will require a lot of investment to return it to what it was.”
According to Dr. Joshua Rukundo, the rising water levels coupled with the Coronavirus pandemic have stalled their work at the facility.
“We depend on tourists but all facilities have been affected. We are now more concerned on the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic,”Rukundo said.
He said the pandemic has seen tourists banned from accessing the facility leading to difficulties in feeding the primates since incomes come from fees by tourists.
“We shall continue reaching out to the public to help us get through the situation.”
Run by Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary which is home to 50 primates was established in October 1998 to care for orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.