The Uganda Wildlife Authority has announced that it is going to relocate all the rhinos currently at the Zziwa Rhino sanctuary in Nakasongola district over an ongoing land wrangle.
In a statement released on Saturday, UWA said that the land wrangle between Zziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches(ZRWR) , the owners of the land where the sanctuary is located and Rhino Fund Uganda, an NGO managing the rhinos has necessitated their intervention.
“UWA has beefed up security of the rhinos to ensure their safety. It is our hope that the misunderstandings will be resolved soon so that the operations at the sanctuary return to normal. In the medium and long term, the rhinos will be introduced to UWA managed protected areas,” the statement said in part.
UWA is a government body mandated to ensure sustainable management of wildlife resources and supervise wildlife activities in Uganda both within and outside the protected areas.
According to them, plans are underway to relocate the rhinos from Zziwa sanctuary to a safer place, having completed a feasibility study to identify the most suitable locations for the introduction of the animals and the conditions to be met.
There has been an ongoing land wrangle between Captain Charles Roy’s family that owns the land where the sanctuary sits under the Zziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches and Rhino Fund Uganda, an NGO that manages the animals at Zziwa Rhino sanctuary.
In 2002, Roy was approached by the NGO with an idea of re-introducing rhinos into the country and was asked to provide land for the same.
Consequently, Roy gave away his 16,000 acres of land after relocating over 7000 heads of cattle that he had on the same land.
Both parties signed an agreement in which Roy was to be part of the board of directors and was to be part of all the decision-making processes for the sanctuary, a thing that happened until sometime when he was allegedly kicked out.
The wrangle escalated when the Rhino Fund Uganda put a caveat on the 16000 acres housing the Zziwa Rhino sanctuary and barred Capt.Roy, the owner of the land from accessing his farm and carrying out any additional development on it.
This, Roy interpreted as a move to grab his land and consequently demanded the sanctuary is taken off his land.
Rhino Fund Uganda recently dismissed as untrue, reports of seeking to grab Capt.Roy’s land.
“The land wrangle being referred to in the media is twisted and misinterpreted. Rhino Fund Uganda, its Executive Director and D & D International Ltd (Amuka Lodge) have no desire or have never attempted to “steal” any Leasehold or Mailo land from Joe Roy. What is referred to as a “land wrangle” is merely the above contesting the early termination notices and protecting their interests and investments on the said land,” a statement released in 2019 read in part.
The impasse over the land has been ongoing for a number of years and is yet to come to an end.
It has escalated and consequently seen Uganda Wildlife Authority intervene by seeking to relocate the rhinos for the animals’ own safety.