Fears for Uganda's zoo animals as cash dwindles in coronavirus lockdown
By Elias Biryabarema ENTEBBE, Uganda (Reuters) - Nyakato, an orphaned baby elephant at a conservation centre in Uganda, wants to play. She flaps her small ears while poking her trunk through the fence towards her keeper. For now, her biggest problem is loneliness
coronavirus lockdown" src="https://images.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/reuters/04-2020/24/2020-04-23T162739Z_1_LYNXNPEG3M229_RTROPTP_2_HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS-UGANDA-WILDLIFE.jpg" alt="Fears for Ugandas zoo animals as cash dwindles in coronavirus lockdown" width="300" height="225" />
By Elias Biryabarema
ENTEBBE, Uganda (Reuters) - Nyakato, an orphaned baby elephant at a conservation centre in Uganda, wants to play. She flaps her small ears while poking her trunk through the fence towards her keeper.
For now, her biggest problem is loneliness. But soon it may be food - cash at the 68-year-old centre where she lives is running out after the global travel freeze and lockdowns caused by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus .
"We are closed to the public," the centre's executive director, James Musinguzi, told Reuters. "No more money is coming in."
Zoos and conservation projects around the world are grappling with dwindling funds after tourists disappeared.
Kenyan conservationists are reining in programmes, and in Germany a zoo warned they might have to feed animals to each other if funding dried up.
In Uganda, the publicly-owned Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) sits on 74 hectares of woods near the town of Entebbe, on a picturesque peninsula on Lake Victoria.
The colonial-era centre runs entirely on cash from visitors.
Last year, it welcomed 385,000 people, but visitor numbers began dropping in January and the centre shut on March 27. Three days later, the east African country imposed one of the continent's strictest lockdowns to slow the spread of the virus.
The lockdown, initially for 14 days, was extended for an extra three weeks on April 14.
But people - and animals - are suffering. Musinguzi estimates the centre can only keep going for another two months.
Nyakato alone drinks 12 litres of baby formula a day, drinking greedily when caretaker Onesmus Mutuza, 25, thrusts a feeding bottle into her mouth and squeezes. That costs 7.2 million shillings ($1,900) per month.
There are other animals to worry about. The centre is home to 280 animals including birds, primates, reptiles, and large mammals like rhinos.
Even if the lockdown ends soon, global travel and tourism are likely to take time to recover. So the centre has introduced "virtual tours" via Facebook, hoping to attract supporters.
Not everyone is gloomy, though. Some animals have been enjoying their privacy. Earlier this year, Kabira, a 23-year-old female white southern rhino finally mated with Sherino after a frustrating wait of more than two decades.
Now caretaker Steven Busulwa is eagerly awaiting a pregnancy test due in June.
"In one year and a half maybe we might have some babies," he said, hopefully.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Mike Collett-White)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.