Rare white rhino gives birth at Ugandan sanctuary

A white rhino has given birth to a female calf at Uganda's Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, the Rhino Fund Uganda has said, bringing their total number at the reserve to 31.

White rhinos were wiped out of the country in the early 1980s but their numbers have increased since the introduction of a breeding programme in 2006, local media report.

Rhino Fund Uganda confirmed the birth in a tweet on Monday:

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Unlike the northern white rhino, the southern white rhinos are not endangered - although their numbers have dwindled due to poaching.

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Jail for the man who killed Rafiki, Uganda's rare silverback mountain gorilla

Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to entering a protected area and killing a gorilla
The killer of one of Uganda's best known mountain gorillas, Rafiki, has been jailed for 11 years.

Felix Byamukama pleaded guilty to illegally entering a protected area and killing a gorilla. Byamukama had said the gorilla attacked him and he killed Rafiki in self defence, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Mountain gorillas are endangered with just over 1,000 in existence and the UWA said "Rafiki has received justice".

Patience Atuhaire in Kampala is following the story.

(Photo: Rafiki the gorilla was thought to be 25 years old when he died. Credit; Uganda Wildlife Authority)

Killer of rare gorilla jailed for 11 years

Patience Atuhaire

BBC News, Kampala

Rafiki the gorilla
Uganda Wildlife Authority
Rafiki was the leader of Uganda's oldest group of mountain gorillas

A court in Uganda has sentenced a man to 11 years in prison, for the killing of a silverback mountain gorilla in early June.

The silverback - named Rafiki - was the leader of the oldest group of the rare mountain gorillas to ever be habituated in the country, and was found dead with injuries to the stomach.

Felix Byamukama, who pleaded guilty to three counts of illegal entry into a protected area, was also convicted for the killing of a duiker and bushpig by the magistrate’s court in the Western town of Kabale on Wednesday.

Conservationists were worried that the habituated group - meaning that it is used to human contact - would be taken over by a wild silverback. But the Wildlife Authority has since confirmed that the group of 11 is stable, now led by a blackback from within the family.

There are just over 1,000 mountain gorillas in existence in the wild, which live in conservation area across Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They are a vital source of tourism revenue for all three countries.

The country's wildlife body has recently raised concern about an increase in poaching, with over 300 incidents recorded during the months of the lockdown when tourism was shutdown.

The sector has now been reopened for selected conservation areas.

Uganda's ruling party nominates Museveni for election

Patience Atuhaire

BBC News, Kampala

Ugandas President Yoweri Museveni
Yoweri Museveni rose to power through an armed rebellion in 1986

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been officially nominated by his party, National Resistance Movement (NRM), as its candidate for the 2021 presidential elections.

His candidature will need to be cleared by the country's electoral commission in November.

If he contests and wins, Mr Museveni - who has ruled the country for 34 years - will be in power for another five.

Although other parties have not officially announced representatives for the January elections, Mr Museveni’s toughest challenger is likely to be musician and politician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, who appears to appeal to younger voters.

In 2017, the ruling party used its muscle in parliament to vote overwhelmingly for removal of presidential terms limits.

Critics said Mr Museveni had been handed a chance at life presidency.

Last month the electoral body announced that the elections will be held in January 2021, but with no campaign rallies because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Campaigns will be carried out online and through radio and TV, it said.

Radio is the most accessible form of media in Uganda.

The ruling party already appears to have an advantage over the opposition in the campaigns since most stations are owned NRM-leaning people.

EU approves visit to Uganda parks

Russell Padmore

Business correspondent, BBC News

An elephant is seen at Murchison Falls National Park

Officials from the European Union have declared Uganda's parks as officially open to tourism after making symbolic visits at the weekend.

The Ugandan tourism industry is now hoping the government will open the country's airspace soon, to allow flights carrying foreign visitors.

Tourism, which earns Uganda $1.6bn (£1.2bn) a year, has suffered huge losses since the country was shut down in March to contain coronavirus.

Travel by road and air was banned, but hotels which were forced to close are open again.

The reopening of national parks is another step towards the recovery of tourism, but the industry needs airlines flying again to bring in foreign visitors.

Uganda’s airport and aviation authorities have issued measures to keep travellers and staff safe, such as screening passengers and their luggage for the virus.

However, that process will require people, who are departing the country, to be at the airport four hours before their flight leaves.

Once those aviation measures get a green light from the government Uganda's tourism industry will be ready for take off.

Uganda confirms second Covid-19 death

Patricia Oyella

BBC News, Uganda

A Red Cross volunteer at the Nakasero market in Kampala.
Uganda has eased restrictions but wearing of face masks in public areas is mandatory

Uganda has confirmed its second death from Covid-19 as the country continues to gradually ease restrictions imposed four months ago.

The ministry of health said the 80-year-old woman was from a densely populated informal settlement in the capital, Kampala.

She died at a hospital on Friday after exhibiting symptoms consistent with Covid-19 which include cough, fever, chest pain and difficulty in breathing.

A postmortem by the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the Makerere University confirmed that she had died of Covid-19.

The health ministry said it had began tracing individuals who may have come into contact with her.

Uganda recorded its first fatality from the disease last week, a 34-year-old woman who worked at a hospital in the eastern border district of Namasindwa.

The country has so far recorded 1,115 cases of coronavirus.

Uganda records first coronavirus death

Patricia Oyella

BBC News

Uganda has recorded the country's first coronavirus death, according to a tweet from the ministry of health.

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Further tweets explain that the 34-year-old woman was originally being treated for pneumonia in hospital last week. She died on Tuesday and was buried on Thursday.

She was part of the support staff at a health centre and the health ministry says 30 people who have may have come into contact with the woman have been placed under quarantine and the tracing of other people who interacted with her is still ongoing.

Uganda has recorded 1,079 cases of coronavirus.

The country began a phased easing of lockdown restrictions in May and on Wednesday allowed traders in one of the most congested areas of the capital, Kampala, to return to reopen their shops.

The country’s World Health Organization representative, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldermariam, said at a media briefing that the death does not indicate that Uganda should reinstate total lockdown as it will depend on various issues, including the number of infections and the capacity of health facilities to handle them.

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