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Uganda plans wildlife cull as deadly Ebola and Marburg affect tourism

By Godfrey Olukya
Posted on Tuesday, 6 November 2012 12:59

A number of foreign tourists have reportedly cancelled their trips to Uganda due to fear of the disease.

The country’s Ministry of Tourism has resolved to cull all wild animals in national parks, as they suspect these could be carrying the fatal viruses.

Mid this year, there was an Ebola outbreak, where 14 people died. A Marburg virus outbreak, a few weeks ago, has so far claimed 10 lives.

Tourism Minister, Maria Mutagamba said her ministry was working with the Health Ministry to carry out research and identify animals carrying the viruses so they could adopt preventive measures.

Ebola and Marburg diseases are believed to originate from wild animals, and as Ugandans are fond of game meat, they are prone to infection from the deadly diseases.

“We are looking at several ways of fighting the deadly diseases. Fencing the game parks so that local people do not access them would be the best option but it is very expensive.

“We shall eliminate animals suspected to be carrying viruses of Ebola and Marburg,” Mutagamba said.

She said because of Ebola and Marburg diseases a number of foreign tourists cancelled their trips to Uganda, leading to loss of income.

A medical expert, Dr Asuman Lukwago said suspected cases of Marburg had been found in monkeys, chimpanzees and bats.

He said when some people poach wild animals in game parks, they end up killing and eating those infected with deadly virus and they also get infected.

But Uganda wildlife authority spokesperson, Lillian Nsubuga wonders how animals would be identified for the cull, as there are thousands of them.

“I wonder how they will identify animals with Ebola or Marburg virus. There are thousands of buffaloes and hippos. How will they check them for the virus?” she asked.

She blamed people living near the national parks for poaching uncertified and wild animals for game.

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