The Environmental activists vowed on Monday to fight a project that has the backing of the country’s president to build a golf course in Uganda’s largest and best-known national park.
Last week, President Yoweri Museveni ordered the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to allow the Madhvani Group to build a golf course in Murchison Falls National Park, a wildlife reserve encompassing rapids on the River Nile in the north of the country.
“We shall do whatever it takes, including legal action. We’ll block it. We’ll get an injunction,” Frank Muramuzi, head of Uganda’s National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)
In a November 17 statement from his office, Museveni said “There is no problem with a golf course,” on a trip to the park with the group’s chief Mayur Madhvani, whilst on the campaign trail for re-election.
Regarding the proposed development, Museveni said, “Golf has no fumes. It is not a factory to generate fumes, it is just grass. This must be resolved. Tell UWA that I want this to be done.”
Madhvani’s assets in Uganda exceed 200 million USD, according to the group’s website, including large agricultural and tourism operations.
The group operates at least three lodges, the recently refurbished Chobe Lodge at Murchison, billed as “a niche of luxury in the wilderness”, a second lodge, Paraa, in the same park andMweya in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Muramuzi argued the golf course would negatively impact on wildlife migration and grazing patterns.
He also suggested that if the project moves forward, it proves that Uganda’s wildlife body is powerless against presidential will.
Murmuzi added this is a country that has laws. To do something like this, you need to do an environmental impact assessment. You need to carefully gazette the area. None of this has happened.
“If UWA allows this course to be built, just because the president said it’s OK, they should pack their bags and go home,” he added.
Murchison Falls is one of Uganda’s most popular tourist destinations, with large populations of elephant, giraffe, antelope and buffalo.
The park was ravaged by poachers through the 1980s and 1990s as persistent conflict in northern Uganda prevented wildlife officials from protecting animals, but the populations have recovered significantly in recent years.