Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja Musafiri has officially transferred the management of Entebbe Botanical Gardens from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries to the Uganda Wildlife Education Conservation Center (UWEC). This move, following a presidential directive, aims to enhance tourism and conservation efforts.
During the handover ceremony, Premier Nabbanja emphasized the government’s commitment to biodiversity conservation and tourism growth. She urged UWEC and the National Agricultural Research Organization to address security concerns and improve facilities within two weeks.
Premier Nabbanja highlighted the positive trend in tourism, citing a record of 486,313 visitors to Entebbe Zoo in 2022. She emphasized the significant role tourism plays, providing employment for 1.5 million people and contributing 6.7% to the country’s GDP.
The Premier further disclosed the government’s strategy to boost tourism earnings, targeting $5.19 billion by 2028 and a goal of $12 billion annually by 2040. The plan involves developing new tourism products, such as refurbishing Entebbe Botanical Gardens and establishing regional centers in Mbale, Gulu, Kyenjojo, and Mbarara.
Premier Nabbanja commended the National Agricultural Research Organization for its role in maintaining the Botanical Gardens but criticized the former management for neglecting amenities and security. She urged the Tourism Ministry to create sustainable plans, transform the gardens into a modern destination, and foster research and conservation.
The Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Hon. Rtd. Maj. Tom Butiime, assured proper management of the gardens. He pledged government support for improvements and emphasized the preservation of fauna and flora.
The Director Crop Resources at the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Steven Byantwale Tibeijuka, urged UWEC to maintain the gene bank for tree specimens. Entebbe Municipality Mayor Fabrice Brad Rulinda supported the handover and called for concurrent promotion of research and tourism.
The Director General of National Agricultural Research Organization, Dr. Yonna Baguma, pledged collaboration with UWEC in research and tourism. The Chairperson Board of Directors for NARO advised cooperation to make Entebbe Botanical Gardens an attractive research and tourism center.
Dr. James Musinguzi, the Executive Director of UWEC, assured the public of collaboration with the Agriculture Ministry and NARO to develop the gardens. He dismissed rumors of garden plots for sale and promised increased security to address safety concerns.
About the Botanical gardens
The Entebbe Botanical Gardens is located in Entebbe town on the northern shores of Lake Victoria 43 km (49 mins drive) from Kampala and 6 km (12 mins drive) from Entebbe airport. Established in 1898 and opened in October by James Berkery who was a consul in the British protectorate government. They were established with the aim of examining and developing agricultural resources in Uganda. In 1995 the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fishery took over the management and they were placed under National Agriculture Research Organization(NARO)
The gardens receive a total annual rainfall of 1623 mm and an altitude of 1134 meters in an area of 40.7 hectares. The place is a diverse collection of species ranging from tropical, subtropical , and temperate zones with 309 tree species. Among them, 199 are indigenous to Uganda as 122 are known for medicinal value, and 110 are exotic making it a spot for botanists. Further, the gardens harbors a number of wildlife species including birds, monkeys, flowers, plants and butterflies
The gardens harbors a variety of birds that may be found within the gardens or on shores of the lake. These include; palm nut vulture, bat hawks, African Grey parrot, orange-tufted, red-chested Sunbirds, black headed Gonolek, Black headed and Vieillot’s black weavers, common Squacco, Jackson’s Golden-backed, Orange Weaver, long-tailed cormorant, yellow-billed duck, African Open- billed stork, Black headed herons, pied and giant kingfisher, Hamerkop, gray headed gull, and more making it an ideal place for bird watching. A stroll reveals a medicinal garden, bamboo stands, thick underbrush, and towering trees. Local rumors suggest early Tarzan movies were filmed here.
How to access the gardens
The Entebbe botanical gardens can be reached through Entebbe airport which takes 12 mins or from Kampala city (43 km) 49 mins drive. One can opt to use Kampala- Entebbe express highway to dodge traffic jams or use Kampala-Entebbe road. The gardens are open everyday from 8:00 am and closed at 6:00 pm.
At the entrance of the Botanical one encounters colobus monkeys on the trees and floor. The entrance fee is 10000 Uganda shillings. However, one is advised to pay a guide fee of 10000 so that a guide accompanies them around since most things are not described. The slow drives through the gardens allows everyone to appreciate the beauty of the place. Tourists can as well visit Uganda Wildlife Education and Conservation Center and Uganda reptile village so as to see other bird species and animals like leopards, lions among others. In addition, one is advised to not leave out his binoculars and any guide book and in case one wants to visit the place, you can make a booking with the tour companies.