What does Uganda’s law say about Wildlife Conservation and nature protection?

National park rules and regulations in Uganda
National park rules and regulations in Uganda

While more effort to conserve nature is on the rise in Uganda and other parts of the world, the threats are not yet over. This is one of the reasons why Uganda’s laws are stringent in as far as nature conservation is concerned. According to the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, several laws have been made to ensure that man harmoniously co-exists with wildlife and hence conserve for generations to come. This Act was made purposely to provide for the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife; to strengthen wildlife conservation and management; to continue the existence of the Uganda Wildlife Authority; to streamline the roles and responsibilities of institutions involved in wildlife conservation and management.

In this piece of writing, you will discover what roles you have got to play as a tourist in conserving nature. You will also learn about the purpose of wildlife protected areas, the offenses and punishments related to Wildlife conservation. You will also be acquainted with the knowledge of what it takes to become a professional hunter or trapper in any Wildlife conservation area in Uganda.

What is a Wildlife Conservation area in Uganda? – Description of wildlife conservation area in Uganda

According to the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Act 2019, a wildlife Conservation Area is defined as a tract of land, lake or sea that is protected by law for purposes of wildlife and biological diversity conservation. It may include a national park, national reserve, game reserve or sanctuary. It also includes a wildlife protected area and a community wildlife management area or any other area declared to be a wildlife conservation area.

What is the purpose laws governing wildlife protected areas in Uganda?

Having laws that govern protected areas is directly linked with the desire to establish a harmonious co-existence between human beings and wildlife. It is crystal clear that man has contributed a great percentage towards extinction of some wildlife species. This is why man has to be restricted somewhere somehow and this can best be done by establishing laws that are well function.

The laws governing wildlife in Uganda are meant to serve the following purposes;

  1. To conservation of wildlife throughout Uganda so that the abundance and diversity of their species are maintained at optimum levels commensurate with other forms of land use, in order to support sustainable utilization of wildlife for the benefit of the people of Uganda.
  2. To protect rare, endangered and endemic species of wild plants and animals
  3. To ensure control of ecologically acceptable problem animals
  4. To enhance economic and social benefits from wildlife management by establishing wildlife use rights and the promotion of tourism
  5. To ensure control of import, export and re-export of wildlife species and specimens to and from Uganda through implementation of relevant international treaties conventions, agreements or other arrangement to which Uganda is a part.
  6. To foster public participation in wildlife management.
Who owns Uganda’s Wildlife?

According to the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, the ownership of a wild animal or wild plant existing in the wild habitat in Uganda is vested in the Government on behalf of, and for the benefit of, the people of Uganda.

On the other hand, the law provides that; where a wild plant or wild animal is lawfully taken by any person, the ownership of that plant or animal shall vest in that person.

The other form of ownership of wildlife in Uganda is based on acquisition of license in accordance with the requirements of the law. Individuals who own wildlife in Uganda with licenses are obliged to follow the terms and conditions of the license.

What are the general offences in wildlife conservation areas in Uganda?

Uganda’s laws stipulate offenses related to wildlife conservation areas. This is what the law says; A person who in a wildlife conservation area—

(a) hunts, takes, kills, injures or disturbs any wild plant, wild animal or domestic animal;

(b) takes, destroys, damages or defaces any object of geomorphological, archaeological, historical, cultural or scientific interest, or any structure lawfully placed or constructed;

(c) prepares land for cultivation, prospects for minerals or mines or attempts any of these operations;

(d) drives, conveys or introduces any wild animal into a wildlife conservation area;

(e) willfully drives, conveys, introduces any domestic animal into a national park or negligently permits any domestic animal, of which he or she is for the time being in charge, to stray into a wildlife conservation area; or

(f) starts or maintains a fire without lawful authority, commits an offence.

In addition or for purposes of emphasis on the above laws, below are some of the national park rules and regulations in Uganda.

What are the regulations governing wildlife conservation areas in Uganda?


• Do not camp or make campfires except at designated sites

• Do not drive off the tracks.

• Do not disturb wildlife by sounding motor horns.

• Do not drive in the park between 7:00pm and 7:00 am.

• Do not bring dogs or other pets into the park.

• Do not litter.

• Do not bring firearms or ammunition into the park.

• Do not pick flowers or destroy any vegetation.

• Do not exceed the speed limit of 40km per hour (25mph)

• Retain all official receipts for inspection.


Before you set out:

• Ensure to carry with you payment receipts and permits

• Do not visit the gorillas if you have a cold or other infectious illness

• Minimum age for tracking is 15 years

• Human waste should be buried 30 cm (12) deep

• Maximum number of visitors is eight persons per gorilla group

When you are with the gorillas:

• Maintain a 7m (21ft) distance from the gorilla

• Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted on the tour

• If you must sneeze or cough, cover your face and turn away from the gorillas, as they can catch coughs and colds from humans

• Visits are limited to one hour per gorilla group per day

• Do not use flash photography.


• Chimpanzees can catch your diseases; you must not enter the forest if you are sick.

• Minimum Age for tracking is 12 years

• Do not leave litter in the forest

• If you need to urinate or defecate, do so off the trail. Bury your waste in a hole (30 cm deep) along with any toilet paper.

• Keep as quiet as possible in the forest, you will see more.

• Keep at least 8 meters (25 feet) from the chimpanzees at all times.

• Do not mimic Chimpanzees’ vocalization (you do not know what you might be saying!)

• Do not eat near the Chimpanzees.

• Do not chase the Chimpanzees.

• Do not use flash photography

What happens when I enter a wildlife protected area without permission in Uganda?

Much as protected areas in Uganda are meant to be visited, you do not just go like that. There are laws governing entrance and exit of these protected areas.

This is what the law says; a person who, except in accordance with the law, attempts to enter into, enters into, resides in, or attempts to reside in a wildlife protected area without permission by the Authority, commits an offence. However, this shall not apply to a member of staff of the Ministry, Authority, Police, Prisons or the Army on official duty requiring his or her presence in a wildlife protected area.

It is the same law that vests the Uganda Wildlife Authority with the powers to issue entrance permits to such areas.

Can I use wildlife resources in Uganda?

In Uganda it is possible to use wildlife resources as long as you follow the right legal procedure as required by the laws of Uganda.

What are the rights of communities around conservation areas in Uganda?

Uganda’s laws provide that the Authority ought to establish guidelines for sustainable access of communities neighboring conservation areas to resources which are historically crucial to the survival of those communities.

It is on such a background that national parks have a give to the community program. In this program, part of the revenue collected from these national parks goes back to the communities neighboring the park. For instance the Karimajong and the Batwa communities neighboring Kidepo Valley national park and Bwindi Impenetrable national park respectively.

Additionally, when recruiting park ranger, guides and other employees in conservation areas, the neighboring communities are given the first priority. All this is done to ensure that there is harmonious co-existence between man and nature.

Does Uganda have wildlife use rights?

Yes, there are Wildlife use rights in Uganda and they are categorized as follows;

Class A wildlife use right which confers a right to hunt Wildlife

Class B wildlife use right which permits farming of wildlife

Class C wildlife use right which permits ranching of wildlife

Class D wildlife use right which permits trading in wildlife and wildlife products

Class E wildlife use right which permits using wildlife for educational or scientific purposes including medical experiments and developments

Class F wildlife use right which permits community resource access

Class G wildlife use right which permits use of wildlife as pets or ornaments

Class H wildlife use right which permits use of wildlife for tourism and recreation.

Can I utilize wildlife without a wildlife use right in Uganda?

It is impossible to utilize wildlife without wildlife use rights in Uganda otherwise you will have committed an offense and subject to trial in the courts of laws. The law provides that, a person who engages in any of the activities which involves the utilization of wildlife or wildlife products without a wildlife use right commits an offence.

Do I need an application to be granted a wildlife use right in Uganda?

A person, community or lead agency may apply to the Authority for one or more wildlife use rights to be granted to them. The applicant will go through the required procedure and obtain the permit.

Who is a professional hunter and trapper in Uganda?

The Authority may, on terms and conditions it considers necessary, and on payment of a prescribed fee, issue to a person— a professional hunters license or a professional trappers license.

Do I need a license to hunt or trap in a conservation area in Uganda?

A person who without a license issued in accordance with the laws;

(a) conducts business as a professional hunter or professional trapper

(b) advertises himself or herself as a professional hunter or professional trapper

(c) solicits a contract or commission under which or for which he or she is to act in the capacity of a professional hunter or a professional trapper;

(d) for gain or reward, assists another person to hunt a protected animal except as a guide, tracker, and porter or in some other like capacity, commits an offence and is on conviction liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding ten years.

Under what conditions can my hunting or trapping license be suspended or cancelled in Uganda?

The law gives the Board on the recommendation of the Executive Director, the powers to cancel a license if the licensee;

(a) is convicted of an offence under the law;

(b) fails to comply with any condition of the license

(c) is not, in the opinion of the Executive Director, conducting the business for which the license is used in a fit and proper manner.

The Executive Director is obliged by the law to notify the licensee in writing of a decision to suspend or cancel the license and should state the reason for the decision

Attempted killing or killing a wild animal in Uganda

A person may kill or attempt to kill a wild animal in self-defense or in defense of another person, except that nothing in this law shall absolve from liability of an offence under this Act, a person who at the time of the attempted killing or killing was committing an offence.

It shall be the duty of any person who kills a wild animal to prove that the act was done in self-defense or the defense of another person.

Ownership of carcass in Uganda

Except as otherwise provided by this Act or by the conditions of any license issued under this Part, the killing of a wild animal as explained above shall not be considered a transfer of ownership of the carcass of the animal to another person. A person who kills a wild animal in defense of himself or others shall, as soon as practicable, report the facts to an officer and shall, unless entitled to retain the carcass under the conditions of any license issued, hand over the carcass or parts of the carcass as the officer may direct. A person who contravenes this law commits an offence.

How do I report if I have been damaged by a wild animal in Uganda?

Subject to the laws of Uganda, a person having reason to believe that a wild animal is causing or may cause material damage to land, crop, domestic animal, building, property or human life may report the facts to an officer.

An officer who receives the report under subsection shall, as soon as practicable, assess or cause to be assessed the extent of the threat posed by the animal or damage caused by the wild animal and shall make or cause to be made, a report to the Authority and take necessary action to minimize the extent of damage.

In deciding what action shall be taken to minimize damage to property caused by a wild animal, an officer shall carefully consider the status of the species and if he or she decides to kill or attempts to kill the animal, he or she shall do so as a last resort and if he or she has reasonable ground to believe that this course of action will not endanger survival of the species.

What happens if I Accidentally kill a wild animal in Uganda?

Where a person kills a wild animal through accident or error, he or she shall, as soon as may be practicable, report the facts to an officer and shall where possible hand over the carcass or part of the carcass as the officer may direct.

The above shall not apply to a person entitled under a wildlife use right or permit issued under the law to hunt a protected or wild animal of that specie and sort, in the circumstances under which he or she killed the animal, and no offence shall have been committed in relation to the killing of the animal. A person who contravenes this law commits an offence.

Wounded wild animal.

A person who wounds a wild animal shall capture, kill the animal or report to an officer at the earliest opportunity. A person who does not comply with the provisions of this law commits an offence. However, this law shall not be construed as permitting a person to follow a wounded animal (a) into a conservation area unless the person holds a wildlife use right, a license or a permit authorizing him or her to hunt the animal in the area or (b) onto private land on which the person has no permission to enter.

A person who believes that he or she has wounded a wild animal which in the wounded condition has entered a conservation area shall immediately report the facts to an officer who shall as he or she sees fit decide whether or not the animal shall be killed, and the officer shall issue instructions accordingly.

A person who believes that he or she has wounded a protected animal which in that wounded condition has entered private land upon which he or she has no permission to enter shall immediately report the facts to the owner of the land. The owner of land who receives a report shall decide whether or not the person making the report is to be permitted to enter his or her land for the purpose of hunting the animal, and the landowner’s decision in this regard shall be final.

Wounded dangerous animal

A person who, in any circumstances, wounds a dangerous animal and fails to kill or capture it within twenty hours after its wounding shall immediately report the fact to an officer.

An officer who receives a report this law shall take immediate steps to locate the wounded dangerous animal, assess its condition and decide, whether or not to kill it and shall either carry out the act himself or herself or give instructions accordingly.

If the wounded animal is a wild animal, the killing of the animal shall only be undertaken in accordance with the conditions specified in the laws of Uganda (Uganda Wildlife Act 2019). A person who contravenes this law commits an offence.


In a nutshell therefore, we believe that at this point you have an insight on what Ugandan laws say about wildlife conservation. Beyond Travelis not a law making body which is why we recommend that you read more about laws of Uganda such as the Uganda Wildlife Act 2019, the 1995 Uganda constitution, to mention but a few. It is such a great thing to embark on Uganda wildlife safari when you are well equipped with the respective laws at the back of your mind.

Now that you are everywhere you wanted to be regarding the laws governing wildlife and nature conservation in Uganda, Book a Uganda Safari and get an extraordinary experience. 


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