The Hunting Report received a copy of the letter and I immediately contacted several operators working in different regions of Uganda. They all confirmed receiving the same letter but contended that something was not right with the announcement. One operator told me he had spoken with someone at UWA and been cleared to continue hunting and that the suspension was only in certain areas. Another said he had a long term contract and he would hold the government to that even if it meant going to court.
I called the UWA to find out what was happening. Mapesa, I was told, was out of the country and the community conservation coordinator was serving in his stead. I spoke with the coordinator, who told me that sporthunting had been suspended throughout Uganda, not just in certain areas. The reason was the need for a game population census and a scientific method of determining quotas. Although the letter specifically mentioned a concern with illegal hunting and "equitable benefit sharing" from sporthunting, the coordinator insisted they just wanted a better quota-setting process. He had no idea what was being done to conduct a census or when the suspension might be lifted. I warned E-mail Extra subscribers about the situation, promising more information and encouraging them not to panic or cancel safaris until we knew more.
I very quickly learned that UWA had just gotten a new Board of Trustees. Some "internal house cleaning" and resulting tensions were at play here. According to a source who spoke directly with the new UWA Chairman of the Board, the board decided not to issue any new hunting concessions or a quota for 2011 until the question of a game census and quota setting........(continued)