Savannah national parks in Uganda are now open for tourism again after a country lock down due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. One of the things that were closed during the presidential directives in March during the lock down of most of the country’s economy sectors was the tourism industry. The tourism sector comprises of the national parks, hotels, airport and tours and travel companies. The directives came as a result of the outbreak of the covid19 pandemic that has claimed many people’s lives and put world economies into ruins.
Nonetheless as time has gone by the virus is being combated and countries have eased the lockdown whereby some sectors of the economies have resumed business. Uganda has also followed suit whereby it has partially opened what it called the real economy like the transport, food markets, media, public services, banking and other private offices.
Though tourism is in the vulnerable economy, some of its departments have been reopened like the hotels and the savannah national parks with assertion to adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for instance keeping social distance, everyone must have a mask, washing hands with soap or sanitizer frequently and having a temperature monitor at the entry point. These have been welcomed by the various tourism stakeholders and assured the authorities that they will oblige and implement them.
The savannah national parks are open technically for domestic tourism since Entebbe International Airport is still closed which is the main gateway for the international tourists into Uganda.
Uganda has ten national parks and seven national parks have been opened which were termed as Savannah Parks. These include: Kidepo valley national park, Murchison falls national park, Queen Elizabeth national park, Lake Mburo national park, Semuliki national park, Mt. Elgon national park and Mt. Rwenzori national park. These parks don’t have primates. Primates like monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas can easily contract a disease from mankind since they are relatively related in the animal kingdom. Therefore parks like Kibale forest national park, Bwindi impenetrable national park and Mgahinga national park will remain closed until further notice.
The opening of the savannah parks was revealed by the Uganda wildlife authority a parastatal responsible for the management and mobilization of national parks in Uganda. This is what the press document released its various social media platform read:
“ Kampala June o5, 2020, the management of the Uganda Wildlife Authority wishes to inform the public that after consultations with the various stakeholders and putting in place standard operating procedures for containment of the possible spread of COVID-19 in our protected areas, the savannah parks are now open for tourism.
The head office in Kampala is also open to the public who require any of our services.
All tourism activities within the protected areas shall be undertaken in a manner that ensures all guidelines by the ministry of health and the directives by His Excellency the president are adhered to.
These include but not limited to:
- Mandatory temperature screening using non-contact infra-red thermometers at the key tourism gates of the different protected areas.
- Mandatory hand washing / sanitizing at the entrances of all UWA premises and protected areas.
- Government guidelines of carrying half capacity in order to observe social distance shall apply to the use of vehicles and boats in the parks. These include concessionaire delivery vehicles.
- Saloon car vehicles shall not be permitted to carry out game drive activities in the protected areas.
- Large groups exceeding 25 people shall not be permitted in the parks at the same time for the same activities.
- Events such as destination weddings shall not be permitted in the interim.
- Visitors going to the parks are encouraged to carry their own hand sanitizer and facemask.
We have trained our staff and provided them with appropriate wear to protect them and the visitors from any possible infection”.