Invasive Plant Species Threatening Wildlife Populations -Auditor General
Invasive and exotic plant species are threatening wildlife populations in conservation areas in Uganda, a report by the Auditor-General reveals.
At least 11 invasive and exotic plant species were identified by the Auditor General’s team in Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley National Parks, in the financial year ended June 2021.
The plants are identified as Dichrostachys cinerea, Lantana Camara, Parthenium hysterophorus, Opuntia vulgaris, Imperata cylindrica, Maeruade cumbens, Caesalepina decaputala, Acacia hockii, Tecoma Stan, Senna siamea, and Thevetia peruviana.
The report indicates the plant species have continued to cover large expanses of grazing land despite the efforts of the Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to eliminate them.
“During my inspection of Queen Elizabeth, Lake Mburo Park, Murchison Falls, and Kidepo Valley National Parks, I noted that these plant species continue to cover large expanses of grazing land despite the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s effort to eliminate them,” says the Auditor General.
According to the report, the plant species are reducing the populations of specific grazers such as Hippos, Buffalos, Zebras, Topis, and Uganda Kobs.
The auditor General attributed the invasion of the plant species to climate change and inadequate funding to remove invasive species from the national parks.
In 2019, UWA launched a drive to get rid of all exotic plants from National parks owing to their harmfulness to wildlife and effects on the ecosystem.
In Kidepo Valley National Park, UWA officials have for the last two months been uprooting some of the invasive species of plants that had become a threat to the natural vegetation for the wildlife.
Park officials say large expanses of the National park had been invaded by invasive weeds and plants poisonous to animals.
Meanwhile, in the same report, the tourism sector suffered setbacks and registered a significant fall in tourism revenue collections in the last two years due to the unprecedented effects of the covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Auditor General, the countrywide restrictions on the movement of persons, including tourists, due to the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in fewer tourists’ visitors.
For instance, the number of tourists’ visitors in the last two years according to the report reduced from 255,711 to 103,812 (40.6 per cent).
The government recently reopened the economy to start operating normally after nearly two years of imposing lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.