UWA builds Shs150 million lab for wildlife conservation


NWOYA- The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), is constructing a Shs150 million research laboratory at Murchison Falls National Park to aid wildlife conservation.

Mr Tom Okello Obong, the conservation manager at Murchison Falls National Park, last week disclosed that the laboratory will be used for research and analysis on wildlife diseases, forensic and DNA testing and fighting illegal wildlife trade.

Mr Obong said construction of the laboratory at UWA offices in Mubako, Buliisa District is about to be completed, adding that it will help in fighting outbreak of diseases, citing anthrax that killed scores of hippos at Queen Elizabeth National Park in 2010.

Speaking to journalists at Wildlife Education Centre in Murchison Falls National Park, Nwoya District, Mr Obong said a similar laboratory, which will serve as a national research centre, is also being constructed in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

“Because of threats of such diseases which can easily wipe out the whole population of animals, we want to use science; we want to use veterinary laboratories to quickly solve such epidemics in case it strikes,” Mr Obong said.

He added that UWA officials will also use the laboratories to carry out forensics and DNA testing on game meat and ivories impounded from poachers to ascertain whether they are wildlife body parts or not when suspects are arraigned in court.

“We have been faced with challenges of sometimes distinguishing whether some of the meats impounded are from wild animals or domestic animals and even perhaps an ivory from a cow horn. So with the laboratory, we shall be able match the DNA and come out with clear answers pointing it’s a wildlife body part or not,” Mr Obong said.

Mr James Dhabasadha, the oil monitoring warden in Murchison Falls Conservation area, said the laboratory will also be used to analyse if any hazardous properties are being spilled as a result of oil exploration in parts of the park.

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