“It is a Presidential gift to Thailand and there is nothing wrong with it as long as the animals undergo quarantine,” said Tourism minister Maria Mutagamba.
She added that the animals have been captured and will be moved to the Uganda Widlife Education Centre (UWEC), formerly Entebbe Zoo where they will be quarantined before shipping to Thailand.
Asked about what Uganda will benefit as a result of the shipment of wild animals to Thailand, Mutagamba said, “We have also benefitted from the exchange of animals in the past. Countries have donated to Uganda animals including rhinos, parrots and we are in the process of getting five elephants from Botswana.”
On the Mountain gorillas, which press in Thailand, said was among the species of wild animals donated to Thailand, Mutagamba said she is not aware of the offer of Mountain gorillas.
“I have read about it but it remains a rumour because I have not got any communication about it,” said Mutagamba, adding that only four animals will be exported and that the gorillas were not among them.
The Thailand press (Nation’s Multimedia) quoted Manopat Huamuangkaew, the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation’s director general saying that the gorillas, a male and a female and aged between five years old, are gifts from the Ugandan government and will arrive in the Chiang Mai Zoo before the end of the year.
Wildlife conservationists including Moses Mapesa told New Vision that gorillas were not to survive outside their natural territory in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and the Virungas shared by Uganda (Mgahinga Gorilla National Park), Rwanda and DR Congo.
Previous efforts by Government of Uganda to offer chimpanzees to the Government of China about a decade ago was opposed by local and global conservationists never took off. Primate conservation including chimpanzees and gorillas have got a lot of international support to protect their habitat and the welfare of individuals that have been rescued from wildlife traffickers.