Tigers in The Pearl of Africa
Tigers in The Pearl of Africa: The Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) has unveiled a pair of Tigers in Uganda after several months when they shipped into the country. For the last eight months, the pair of tigers which is comprised of male and female has been undergoing through institutional quarantine and medical examination until now that they have been deemed fit to occupy their holding facility. Speaking at a press conference, the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre Executive Director, Dr. James Musinguzi said the male and female pair aged 2 years and 3 months respectively arrived on 7th March 2020 from a South African partner Zoo before the national lockdown and have since been under the watch of the vet team at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre. The tiger pair will therefore be transferred from the quarantine facility to their specialized exhibit which has been made suitable to mimic their habitat, having gone through full mandatory quarantine for 90 days and are ready for exposure to the public.
Uganda Wildlife Education Centre is also known to be the training centre for Zoos & Aquaria in the region. “The reintroduction of tigers in Uganda is as a result of partnership with the World Association of Zoos & Aquaria and the Pan African Association of Zoos & Aquaria, to which Uganda holds chairmanship,” says Dr. Musinguzi. He revealed that it cost about $30,000 to import just one tiger however due to the innovation of the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre, they were able to barter the unveiled pair of tigers for 25 monkeys and the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre only met the shipping costs of about $2,000 from South Africa to Uganda. “The pair of tigers is yet to be launched however they consume about 10 kilograms of meat everyday putting feeding costs at Shs. 150,000 per day” says Dr. Musinguzi.
Uganda becomes the first East African country to accommodate the Tigers. Tigers are known to be Asian cats, only found in Asia’s wild and are said to be the largest members of the cat family. In Africa, they don’t exist in the wild but can be found in a series of Zoos. They are territorial species, generally isolated but social animals at the same time. In other parts of the world, Tigers are kept in captivity. They have muscular bodies with powerful forelimbs, large heads, and tails that are about half of its full body. Male tiger differ and vary from the females in terms of weight and height; the male tigers weigh about 90kilograms to 300kilograms with a height of about 8 feet to 12 feet while the female tigers weigh about 65 kilograms to 167 kilograms with a height of about 6 to 9 feet. Tigers are considered endangered according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As of 2015, the global Tiger population was estimated to about 3,062 to 3,948 individuals.
Dr. Musinguzi also mentioned that the Tigers last existed in Uganda in the 1970s. He further stated that conservation is a global noble cause whereby even animals like the Tigers which do not exist in Africa, it is obligatory for conservation bodies to educate people on how to conserve such animal species. He further mentioned that “over the last century, subspecies of tigers have dwindled from five to eight due yo hunting and logging, therefore this re-introduced pair gives hope to fulfil conservation roles of education, research and recreation. Eric Ntalo, the Wildlife Centre’s publicist says that the Tiger pair completes Uganda Wildlife Educations Centre’s conservation, education, research, and recreation concept in line with the Big Cats family joining its African relatives that is the Lions, Leopards and Cheetahs. The famed Entebbe Zoo will be the only place in the Uganda to see the Tiger.
David Musingo Uganda Wildlife Education Centre’s Manager in charge of Information & Education says that in light of their commitment, Wildlife Conservation, as well as Conservation Education, is a global responsibility. He however assures Wildlife enthusiasts that these exotic animals will only be kept at the Entebbe Zoo and never introduced in the Ugandan Wild as per the specifics dictated in a license from the Uganda Wildlife Authority. He also mentioned that the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre also has other plans of introducing other exotic species such as the Kangaroos for education purposes. He further said that “the government of Uganda is committed to setting up several zoos in the different regions of the country, with visibility study, we are going to start with one satellite zoo in Mbale city next year, with an estimate cost of Shs.12 billion, followed by other towns like Mbarara, Fort portal to mention a few.”