By Enyichukwu Enemanna
At least 11 officials have been relieved of their jobs by Uganda’s wildlife authority for allegedly producing and selling fake gorilla permits to tourists.
Gorillas generate significant tourism revenue for wildlife conservation efforts in Uganda.
The government agency in charge of producing and selling passes which permit tourists to see gorillas up close, said it had found anomalies in its online transactions during auditing.
Safari companies say a permit currently costs about $700 (£575) per person per trek – and a limited number are offered each year.
According to Uganda’s private Daily Monitor newspaper, auditors discovered that the number of visitors at Mgahinga and Bwindi national parks did not tally with revenue generated.
The possibility is that staff and tour operators had worked together to commit fraud, currently being investigated, Bashir Hang, spokesperson from the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), said.
The agency added it had not yet established how much money it had lost to the suspected fraud.
A number of UWA bosses were set to be questioned about the scandal, state-run New Vision newspaper said.