On 3rd December, 2020 –Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWEC) officially welcomed the largest member of the cat family, back to Uganda when two tigers were unveiled by the Executive Director UWEC Dr.James Musinguzi at their new home at UWEC, Entebbe.
From the 1960s to 1980s when the Center was popularly known as the Entebbe Zoo, exotic species such as tigers and brown bears were part of the collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.
Confirming the development, the UWEC Public Relations Officer Eric Ntalumbwa said: ‘The pair of tigers, male and female aged 2 years and 3 months from ‘Mystic Monkeys and Feathers Wildlife park ‘in South Africa, arrived before the national lockdown in March 2020 and have since been under the watchful eye of our animal caregivers and veterinary specialists at the quarantine and veterinary hospital’. They were exchanged for 25 Colobus and De Brazzas monkeys abundant in Uganda, and all UWEC had to pay was $2000 in freight costs according to Ntalumbwa.”
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily operations. UWEC lost Ush. 2.5 billion (about $680,000) since temporary closing in March 2020 to June 2020, and thereafter it has lost Ush. 2 billion (about $545,000) since July 2020 to Date.
“The pairs debut was therefore deemed to be a dawn of hope, which fulfills our conventional roles of education, conservation, research and recreation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their move to Uganda was recommended by the Pan-African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA) and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), which demands that the large cats are managed in an Ex-situ environment,” he added.
“We are glad to welcome the tigers to UWEC after six decades. The Bengal tigers sometimes called Indian tigers is a species that resonates with the Indian community living in Uganda which has over the months proven to be loyal to the animals at UWEC,” said Musinguzi. The Center has appealed to corporates that are associated with the tiger brand and all well-wishers to sponsor the pair including having the priviledge of naming them.
Musinguzi revealed that ‘over the last century, subspecies of tigers dwindled from eight to five due to hunting as trophies and habitat loss from intensive logging and development. The remaining subspecies including the one we have here need protection and are classified as endangered according to the International Union for Conservation of Natures (IUCN) Red list of Threatened Species’.
Tigers are extremely territorial species, so the pair will get a chance to explore the tiger habitat, which has been specially constructed to suit their behavior.
In the wild, Bengal tiger habitats are tropical rainforests, marshes, and tall grasses. Tigers rest in the shade during the day and hunt at dusk or dawn. The Bengal tigers have been spotted in the shade or around bodies of water to cool off.