The management of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary has said they are seeking for more support from well-wishers to enable them carry out their activities.
President Museveni on Sunday directed that the airport and country’s borders reopen to tourists after being closed for over six months.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, James Musinguzi, the UWEC Executive Director but also the chairman Ngamba Sanctuary Board of Trustees, whereas the facility is going to reopen, the number of visitors will still be down.
“As we reopen we have had to reduce number of visitors to a half so as to adhere to protocols. These numbers will be implying we will not be fully able to sustain the island much as we are reopening. We want to appeal to the public to continue giving to sustain the island,”Musinguzi said.
According to Dr.Joshua Rukundo, the Ngamba Executive Director, there is need for the sanctuary to become self-sustaining so they become less vulnerable in times such as the current pandemic.
“We are in talks with government and my board for future sustainability and absorb such shocks like the Coronavirus pandemic. We want to see that government can make provisions to have the sanctuary as one of the entities it gives support to directly,”Rukundo said.
Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary was established in October 1998 to care for orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued by the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
The sanctuary sits on a 100 acre –piece of land and 95 percent of it is a forest and inhabited by chimpanzees.
Managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Ngamba is home to 50 orphaned chimpanzees and is registered as an NGO.
Speaking on Wednesday, Musinguzi said that since Ngamba plays a big role in promotion of tourism in the country and that the chimps are kept on behalf of government, they have started negotiations to ensure the sanctuary gets direct funding from government.
“Efforts are underway to make sure Ngamba is mainstreamed in the budget framework for government so that there is sustainable financing for the island. We are having discussions with government through the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, board and management of Ngamba as well as other stakeholders to look at the current legal framework for the sanctuary. There is need for the legal status to change a bit so that government can directly budget for the island,”Musinguzi, the chairman for Ngamba Sanctuary Board of Trustees.
“We are looking for all options. Either to establish Ngamba as an NGO but also as a public trust or to have it transitioned into a statutory body. All those options are available and we are discussing so that we can receive assistance from government.”
According to Dr. Joshua Rukundo, they have put in place a number of guidelines to be followed by visitors to Ngamba as the chimp sanctuary reopens.
“We have been in consult with many chimpanzee and primate specialists about the safety of the animals before reopening. We are now satisfied Ngamba can reopen,” Rukundo said.
“The guidelines we have developed and put in place will make it safe for the animals, workers and visitors at Ngamba.”
Guidelines to be followed at Ngamba
. Mandatory temperature screening on all boats heading to Ngamba Island.
. Mandatory hand washing / sanitizing at the entrances.
. Bags and equipment shall also be disinfected
. Wearing face masks while on the boat and at the sanctuary
. Carrying capacity of boats to Ngamba reduced to half
. Ensuring social distance at the sanctuary