He is the new member of the Uganda Wild Life Education Centre Family commonly known as Entebbe Zoo. I am ushered to his cage at the Animal sanctuary and Rehabilitation centre by Veterinary Doctor Abdulhameed Kateregga where he is still undergoing several medical tests to fully ascertain his health condition. On hearing us Letaba wakes up from his nap and roars upon seeing us, Kateregga tells me to stay calm adding that Letaba is trying to adjust to his new home after he was brought in on Saturday from South Africa aboard a South African Cargo Flight amidst excitement from UWEC staff who where anxiously waiting for him to arrive. Letaba is the new lion that was donated to UWEC by Mike Fynn the proprietor and owner of Lion Park South Africa where Letaba was living. Letaba takes over Kibonge’s territory who passed away early this year due to liver complications and old age.
Kateregga who is currently monitoring Letaba indicates that the lion is close 230 kgs much bigger than Kiboge who was born with an infection.
“We are closely monitoring his health before we can release him to join the other female lions. He roars, he is aggressive though he was calm on arrival because he had been sedated” Kateregga says.
UWEC Boss Dr. James Musinguzi cannot hide the smile on his face after waiting for months to have Letaba at the centre.
“Back last year in May 2014 we hosted the International Conference on Africa Association on Zoos and Aquariums. Several high profile wildlife guests including the president of zoos in the world and the owner of Lion Park South Africa Mike Fynn was impressed with the work we are doing at UWEC and decided to donate a lion to us” Dr. James Musinguzi states.
“We then started on the process of getting the relevant permits and documentation to import the Lion from South Africa. Some of the documents and permits that were required included scientific authority certificate and CITES Permit from the ministry of tourism, wildlife and antiquities and Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA), livestock, Entomology and veterinary certificates from ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries” Musinguzi disclosed.
He continues: “All the documents were sent to South Africa were tests were carried out to ensure that the Lion was free from disease. It was isolated for 30 to 60 days were it was checked and observed, all the tests showed that the lion was in perfect health condition. We then applied for an export permit and a field International veterinary Certificate from South African Airways”
Musinguzi is particularly grateful to South African Airways which paid 50 percent of the flight costs all courtesy of country Manager Mrs Yogi Birigwa who also sits on the UWEC board. He also appreciates Mike Fynn the owner of Lion Park who donated Letaba to UWEC and Mike Bester the owner of Mike Bester Birds who prepared the crate and did all the flight booking.
“I’m grateful to Mike Fynn who donated Letaba to UWEC because if we were to import the lion it would have cost close to $10,000 and above” Musinguzi says.
Dr.Musinguzi also reveals that Zoos traditionally exchange animals to allow the mix up of different genes.
He adds: “UWEC has undergone the compulsory operational zoo standards Audit carried out by South African wild life zoo experts and has been designated to coordinate all zoos in East, West and Central Africa.