Agence France-Presse

Wildlife populations in Uganda’s main national parks have boomed during the past 10 years and the expulsion of rebels has contributed to a decline in poaching, the Uganda Wildlife Authority says.

Data collected in 2009 and 2010 show the populations of several species have more than doubled since 1999, when the previous census was conducted.

”We’ve been able to reduce poaching by offering increased benefits to the local communities, more ways for them to share in money that comes from wildlife,” the authority’s spokeswoman, Lillian Nsubuga, said on Saturday.

While the animal increases are evident nationwide, Ms Nsubuga said the expulsion of Lord’s Resistance Army rebels from northern Uganda was the main contributor to animal population surges in one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, Murchison Falls National Park.

During the conflict wildlife officers were largely unable to control poaching in much of Murchison Falls, which is within Gulu district, the centre of the rebel war.

Gulu has been free of rebel violence for more than four years and the gunmen have relocated to neighbouring countries in the region.

There are now more than 11,000 buffaloes in Murchison Falls, up from 3889 in 1999, authority said.

The Uganda kob population has increased from 7458 to 36,640, and giraffe, impala, zebra and waterbuck populations have experienced three-fold increases nationally.

Ms Nsubuga attributed the rises to ”good practices and improved monitoring”.

”We can’t say that poaching in no longer a problem, but we have been able to reduce it,” she said.