The reaction was swift and united among the conservation fraternity and tourism stakeholders, when news broke earlier in the week that the owners of the Chobe Safari Lodge in the upper part of Murchisons’ Falls National Park had dropped their quest to establish a golf course inside the park.
“I congratulate Marasa for abandoning the idea and accepting that playing golf outside the park is a better option. Like many years ago in Mweya, the same arguments were advanced from both sides. Like in Mweya back then, did facts triumph over the wish of the owners to have a golf course inside the park. Maybe few understand what a golf course development entails. It means to bring in alien species of grass, a high usage of water and a high amount of chemical fertilizers especially for the greens. In Mweya there was also a wildlife corridor to and from the peninsula to consider. At Chobe the area is quite wooded and felling trees for a golf course is also not a good way to protect the environment. If Marasa can secure land and build a golf course near Karuma, it will be better. But then, there is a golf course in Pakwach and there is space near Katwe to develop one there, so why not invest in those? There is an existing course in Kasese, also not far from Mweya, all viable options,” wrote a regular conservation source from Kampala, expressing both relief and delight with the decision.
The news was broken by UWA’s Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Seguya, when he appeared before the parliamentary committee on tourism. It was Seguya’s first such appearance after returning from a short-lived suspension when, what was broadly considered personal enemies, tried to tie him to the theft of ivory and rhino horn from the authority’s strong room last year. Tourism Minister Dr. Maria Mutagamba at the time had to bow to pressure to suspend him, even though it was Seguya who blew the whistle on the missing ivory after an audit revealed the discrepancies.
Some of the ivory has since been seized while attempting to export it, and a number of suspects are now in custody helping police and other security organizations in their investigations.
Congratulations to Marasa from this correspondent, who, as was the case with the proposed golf course on the Mweya peninsula of Queen Elizabeth National Park, was also outspoken and opposed to the plans for Murchisons, notwithstanding the close personal and professional relationship with the company. Changing tack shows an improved level of maturity on Director’s level and acceptance that environmental protection of the area around the Chobe Safari Lodge will ultimately benefit the long-term business prospects of that venture.