The Promota Magazine
Uganda Wildlife Authority should initiate nurseries for the propagation of endemic plant species
In the last decade, Uganda Wildlife Authority re-introduced licensed trophy hunting in the National Parks, proceeds of which go to the parks and community. If UWA permits licensed hunting, then they could adapt the same principle for extraction and propagation of the plants and shrubs within the National Parks.
National Forestry Authority and National Agricultural Research Organisation for example, have several tree seed centres for Mivule, teak, pine and even fruit trees.
Each park should be able to invest in nurseries for plants endemic to their parks that are of ornamental, medicinal or aesthetic value, to create an additional revenue source for the parks and surrounding communities or for education and appreciation by the public. For example, the Borasas palm has a history related to being propagated in a straight line by elephant dung after the elephants consume and defecate the seeds. The other account is that they were propagated by slave traders in a straight line so they could easily retrace their route to the coast. Whatever version one may choose to believe, this plant that lines the elephant corridors between Masindi district, Murchison Falls National Park, parts of Moyo in Panjala where the ruins of Emin Pashas Fort Dufile are located, all the way to The Sudan, can be raised in nurseries and sold to tourists who visit the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters in Kampala or the Botanical Gardens in Entebbe.
Extraction of bamboo shoots for food by the Bagishu from Mt. Elgon and the bamboo shrubs that host the bronze statue of a Mountain Gorilla at the Uganda Wildlife headquarters in Kampala are perhaps an inadvertent demonstration of the success of this experiment. They can serve as great fencing or barriers in city compounds.
Ornamental plants like Lobelia, endemic to the Ruwenzori, Mt. Elgon and Mgahinga in the fountain garden of Serena, with an information plaque on the specie, would be an instant attraction and would inspire potential visitors. After carefully studying their ideal climatic adaptations, they could be sold as an additional revenue source for the parks with careful sustainable consideration to maintain a balance.
Examples of other species that can be identified for this project are the acacia trees in the Savannah of Lake Mburo National Park, or the Mburo plant with aphrodisiac properties, after which the park is named. There is also the famous Sausage tree (kigelia Africana) commonly found in Murchison Falls National Park and Narus valley in Kidepo Valley National Park, and even the fig tree that never gets the credit for making the tree climbing lions of Queen Elizabeth National Park so famous.
If a tourist wishes to export the plants, the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife should be able to come up with similar guidelines as they have on the export of animal trophies.
We could also benchmark from the Seychelles that are famed for the Coco de Mer tree with a peculiar pod shaped like a woman’s backside.
Another example of successful export of plants was to the USA. The Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, which opened in 1998, dedicated a safari ride named ‘ Kilimanjaro Safaris’ to animal and plant life by importing over 4 million vines, shrubs, vines epiphytes and ground covers from all over the world to re-create an African savannah. Since then, they have managed to raise several animal and plant species and they even managed to ‘donate’ white rhinos to Uganda’s Rhino Fund programme that was set up to re –introduce and breed the animals after their extinction in Uganda in the early 80’s.
Now that Dr. Seguya has been confirmed as Executive Director of U.W.A, the wardens and botanists should get started. In addition, our capital city Kampala should receive the first trees gratis and once again regain her glory as the ‘Garden City of Africa’, its streets adorned with Palm, Acacia, ‘Mburo’ and fig trees (minus the lions!).
by Tony Ofungi
Director Marketing & Product Development