Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has stepped up security in Queen Elizabeth National Park following the tragic deaths of a British and South African tourist couple, along with their guide, believed to have been killed by suspected ADF rebels just two weeks ago. The attackers also set fire to the tourists’ vehicle, which was owned by Gorilla and Wildlife Safaris.
During a recent park tour with UWA, increased military presence was evident in isolated areas within the park. A joint team of crime experts from Uganda, Britain, and South Africa was seen reconstructing the crime scene.
Pontius Ezuma, the Chief Warden of Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, emphasized that comprehensive security measures have been implemented. These measures encompass a continuous military presence in the park, heightened police and military patrols on park roads, the use of drone surveillance cameras for aerial monitoring, community awareness programs, and local mobilization as the first line of defense.
Ezuma also noted that the tragic incident did not significantly affect the number of visitors to the park, which has remained relatively constant.
“For instance, in the week of the incident, 932 visitors entered the park, including 604 foreign non-residents. In the 11 days following the incident, there were 957 visitors, with 632 being foreign non-residents,” he explained.
Bashir Hangi, the UWA Manager for Communication, described the introduction of drone surveillance systems as a means to bolster park security and safeguard wildlife habitats. He explained that the drones offer real-time information about activities within different parts of the park, aiding in determining appropriate responses.
“A dedicated team of game rangers with specialized knowledge operates these self-driven surveillance cameras, particularly in hot spot areas where we must ensure that we occasionally fly these self-driven cameras. We also use them for animal management, as animals sometimes venture out of the park, and we are unable to determine their whereabouts until we receive reports of them damaging people’s property,” he stated.
Hangi further revealed that drones have been deployed in five other conservation areas, and there are plans to equip each of the 22 conservation areas with at least four surveillance drones.
Csillar Saxer, a tourist from Switzerland, expressed some initial concerns about visiting the park. However, with the vigilance of their guides and the visible military presence, she gained confidence in the adequate security measures during her visit.