In recent developments at the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), concerns have arisen over the use of funds donated by a charity organization during the Covid-19 lockdown. The American charity, Pilgrim Africa, had donated $100,000 (Shs374 million) to support rangers and operational activities in the Bwindi-Mgahinga conservation area. However, there are suspicions that the money may not have reached its intended beneficiaries, and there is no documentary evidence of items supposedly purchased with these funds.
Furthermore, it has been revealed that nearly half a billion shillings were allocated for various services in the conservation area during the lockdown, but there is a lack of evidence to confirm the delivery of these services. This includes purchases of food items, medical supplies, fuel, airtime, field equipment, and internet costs.
The Bwindi-Mgahinga conservation area, renowned for its mountain gorilla population and cultural significance, has been facing a series of controversies. Prior to these allegations, an internal audit had exposed corrupt practices involving top-level staff colluding with tour operators to defraud the government.
While the UWA acknowledged receiving the donation from Pilgrim Africa in July 2020, the organization has not provided clear answers regarding the missing funds. Mr. Sam Mwandha, the executive director of UWA, has not responded to inquiries, and the matter is currently under police investigation.
Affected staff members, who were expecting the donation as a welfare-support payment for their dedication during the Covid-19 tourism shutdown, have expressed disappointment and confusion. The situation continues to unravel as investigations into these financial matters persist.