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Uganda bird sanctuary threatened by human encroachment.

KAMPALA, April 23 Kyodo

Millions of birds that migrate between Europe and the Lutembe Bay marshlands on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda will soon have no sanctuary as the marshland is being steadily destroyed by commercial development, according to environmentalists.

Rosebud Ltd., one of four flower farms on the shores of Lake Victoria and owned by tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia, has begun massive encroachment on the Lutembe Bay marshlands in an expansion move. The company has already constructed a road through the swamp.

According to Nature Uganda, a local environmentalist group and a partner of BirdLife International, the Lutembe Bay marshland is a favorite destination for over 2 million migratory birds from Europe during winter.

Achilles Byaruhanga, the chief executive officer of Nature Uganda, said the Lutembe Bay bird sanctuary is the hottest bird watching spot for water birds in Uganda. Many tourists come to Uganda to see the birds, he said.

Nature Uganda has protested the act of the Rosebud company and petitioned the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).

Aryamanya Mugisha, director of NEMA, said the environmental authority has ordered Rosebud to stop encroaching on the marshland and to restore the wetland where it had built a road. However, NEMA's order is on hold because Rosebud has a permit to do business from the president's office.

Research reveals that Lutembe Bay holds more than five species of birds, including a large population of white-winged black terns, that qualify the area as a Ramsar site. Ramsar is an Iranian city where a global convention on wetlands was signed three decades ago.

Recent surveys have also discovered a rare species of plant -- the Aeschynomene species -- that is not known to occur anywhere else in East and Central Africa.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Geographic Code:6UGAN
Date:Apr 28, 2003
Words:288
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