MPs grill Entebbe Zoo bosses over sh10b lions’ share

20 Mar 2024

KAMPALA: Members of Parliament on the Tourism Committee have tasked officials from Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) with providing a breakdown for the Shs10b requested for lion breeding.

The legislators said Tuesday they wouldn’t accept ‘landing themselves in problems’ by trying to defend an exorbitant figure they know nothing about.

The MPs expressed worry that the high figure might be used to buy lions which might not even give birth.

They further said a private breeder in Butambala was keeping more lions at a lower cost compared to the figure quoted by UWEC.

See dialogue below

Richard Gafabusa MP (Bwamba County): With Shs10Bn, how many additional lions do we expect? This is (money) for one financial year. So, if we give you Shs10Bn beginning July 2024, by June 2025, how many additional lions?

David Musingo, Acting ED-UWEC: The starting stock, we shall get 4 female (lioness) and one male (lion). We shall get 8 with two males. We are going to have like two areas, where we have 4 lions in each, those are eight females. Now, there is a probability of getting pregnant.

Mwine: So, we might invest and they don’t get pregnant?

Musingo: For us they get pregnant. In fact, the lions we have are on family planning.

Mwine: So how do we account for the taxpayers’ money when the lion fails to get pregnant?

Witness: But through genetics, you select the viable population. Chairperson, I want to be protected, I know we are going to be invited. We have the international community where we have what we call Animal Fundamentalists trying to shoot down this project and we are going to defend it during the dialogue where we shall share all those nitty gritty.

Mwine: You are here for a budget, you have to defend this budget before us and we defend it before Parliament.

Witness: I hope the journalists aren’t arming the fundamentalists to shoot us.

From our experience, once you have lions from a controlled environment, if it is in the wild, other factors are at play, you may have zero probability.

But for us we are very sure, once we create the boomers, they are going to produce.

The other time we got one female producing five from UWEC. So, on average they are two, that is the assurance we can give you.

Mwine: This man CTC Conservation Centre in Mpigi, he started with 4 lions, in a period of 1year, he has 26 lions.

And those 26 lions are eating 1ton every two weeks and we did a rough estimate, he is spending around Shs390M in a year but here we are looking at Shs10b and we are getting 16 lions.

Witness: I need you to look at how those lions are coming in, maybe you will discover more information.

Mwine: How do they come in? By a boat? You mean he isn’t breeding?

Witness: Me all I request is more investigation to be done. UWEC will never do things not according to science, we use systematic methods the way we do things. All documentation is there to show how we do our things.

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