February 22, 2010 / 2:15 PM / 8 years ago

Uganda asks oil firms to move camps from game parks

KAMPALA (Reuters) - The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has asked firms exploring for oil to move their camps outside of game reserves to prevent poaching, it said Monday.

A family of elephants walk to a water pond at dusk in Amboseli national park, 290 km (188 miles) southeast of capital Nairobi August, 29, 2007. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

In January, the UWA accused workers contracted by Tullow Oil

of killing the only surviving male Reedbuck — an African antelope — in Kabwoye wildlife reserve.

UWA’s Executive Director Moses Mapesa said Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil had been allowed to set up camps in the parks on a temporary basis during the exploration phase.

“We’ve already lost that male reedbuck and although Tullow has offered to replace it, where can they get it?” he told Reuters. The workers accused over the reedbuck killing were later arrested and their case is in court.

“These camps can easily attract villagers and grow into big settlements which would adversely impact game life because then you’ll have practices like poaching exploding.”

The oil firms were not immediately available for comment and it was not clear if they had been given a deadline to move.

Uganda discovered significant deposits of petroleum around the Lake Albert basin on its border with D.R. Congo in 2006 and major industry players have since been scrambling to gain a stake in the fast-growing industry.

Murchison Falls National Park, one of Uganda’s biggest, and the Kabwoye game reserve are part of the Albertine Graben where oil strikes have been made.

Uganda has an estimated 2 billion barrels in reserves and Tullow Oil has said it intends to start commercial production by end of this year.

The firm is in the process of acquiring Heritage’s stakes in the jointly owned exploration blocks 1 and 3A. It is also in talks with France’s Total and China’s CNOOC over a possible purchase of shares in its Ugandan fields.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Jon Boyle

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