After weeks of investigations involving the Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and the Ministry of Health on what has been causing the death of hippos in Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area (QECA), it has been confirmed that anthrax has been the cause of the deaths.
Because the scourge was in the national park, Uganda Wildlife Authority played a key role in these investigations, and obtained assistance from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, MUK, the Department for Water Development, the Livestock Department in MAAIF and the Government Chemist.
Uganda Wildlife Authority has decided to implement new measures to ensure the safety and comfort of visitors to the national park. These include the following:
§ As a precautionary measure, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) will suspend Launch Trips on the Kazinga Channel until further notice. However, concerted efforts will be made to ensure that this popular tourist activity resumes as soon as possible.
§ Game drives will be planned in a manner that will ensure that tourists are not exposed to the sight of dead animals. We have instructed our ground staff to guide tourists only to those areas considered safe.
§ Our staff will continue to liaise with the relevant organizations to bring the scourge under control, and to ensure that it does not spread to other areas in the country.
§ We are dispatching an advance team led by the Director for Field Operations, Mr. Moses Mapesa to start the disposal of carcasses in preparation for the arrival in QECA of the multidisciplinary team under the chairmanship of the Commissioner for Livestock Health.
§ The taskforce formed under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Trade and Industry has requested for funds from government to:
a). dispose of the carcasses
b). immunize domestic animals
c). undertake a public awareness campaign against spread of the disease.
We will continue to work closely with partner agencies including the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Water Lands and Environment and other relevant partners to find a lasting solution to the problem.
Available literature indicates that people cannot catch anthrax unless they get in direct contact with the dead animals. Therefore, once precautionary measures have been undertaken humans cannot catch anthrax.
It is highly probable that one of the possible causes of the anthrax is from uncontrolled cattle movements in and out of the national park. UWA therefore strongly cautions against continued uncontrolled grazing of cattle inside all Protected Areas.