By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: President Yoweri Museveni has intervened and brought the two parties embroiled in the fight over the ownership and management of Rhinos at the Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola to a round table.
Museveni met Captain Charles Roy’s family led by his daughter Bonnie Wendy and lawyer Richard Omongole of Omongole and Company advocates on one hand and Angie Genade a South African national currently managing the Nakasongola-based Rhino Fund Uganda (RFU) that runs the sanctuary. Also in attendance were district officials from Nakasongola, Uganda Wildlife Authority officials and the Tourism Minister Ephraim Kamuntu. The meeting comes in the wake of a bitter fallout between Roy and Genade over the management of the Rhino sanctuary. Capt. Roy accuses Genade of attempting to grab his 16,000 acres of land he had leased to RFU while Genade has been accusing Capt. Roy of wanting to evict them from the ranch. Sources in State House told Saturday Vision that the President summoned all the parties involved after he received four different petitions from RFU led by Genade, Captain Roy, Nakasongola District and the another one from Nakasongola Resident District Commissioner, Dan Muganga.
Saturday Vision has learnt that the President gave each of the two parties time to explain their case and after listening ruled out that the land in question belonged to Capt. Roy and nobody would forcefully take it away from him. He however tried to ask both parties to reconcile and run the business jointly but the Roy family rejected the move noting that they had tried to engage RFU way back before chaos at the sanctuary escalated but were not given the opportunity. Wendy noted in the meeting that all they wanted was RFU out of the sanctuary and that they planned to transform the Zziwa Rhino sanctuary into a private game reserve and that the Rhinos would stay and that they had been granted permission to introduce other animals at the ranch by the Uganda Wildlife Authority Saturday Vision has learnt that President Museveni directed State House head of legal department Flora Kiconco to review documents handed over by bought parties and report back to him within the two weeks. Kiconco confirmed the President had directed her to write a report. “I was directed to study the documents relating to the matter and submit the report to the President,” Kiconco said.
This would not be the first time attempts are being made at resolving the Sanctuary wrangles. Late last year, Kamuntu met Roy and Genade to try and resolve the impasse but failed. Saturday Vision has also learnt of a move by sections of some staff of the Office of the President and Nakasongola district who were scheming to have the government forcefully take over the ranch and compensate Roy in the pretext that the wanted the Rhinos kept safe. The meeting comes in the wake of a series of stories published by Saturday and Sunday Vision indicating that the fate of over 24 Rhinos at the Zziwa Rhino ranch sanctuary in Nakitooma village in Nakasongola district appears to hang in balance following a rift an impasse between Captain Charles Joy Roy the owner of the ranch and RFU. The sanctuary initially a ranch, is owned by Captain Roy however he accuses the RFU of trying to drum up public support and sympathy in order to blackmail him and grab his land.
Captain Roy was among the few who initiated the idea of re-introduction and breeding program of Rhinos into Uganda. He voluntarily offered his 16,000 hectares of land for the conservation of Rhinos and opted to purchases another land where he shifted all his cattle. Roy used his own plane to transfer some of the Rhino’s that were donated from the US and brought others from Kenya including setting up the entire infrastructure which included digging up boreholes and securing using donations to set up a fence.
He later entered into a 30 year lease with RFU but terminated it last year after they failed to honor terms of their agreement. In return the RFU threw Roy and his representatives out of the board and used police to deny them access to the ranch including his own homestead which he had built and that the RFU was using police who are illegally deployed at his ranch.