Uganda's president has said armed poachers operating in national parks should be shot on sight because of the damage they inflict on tourism to the central African nation, according to his spokesman.
Yoweri Museveni made the comments during a visit to Kidepo National Park, a remote area on the border with South Sudan and northern Kenya - regions that are both awash with weapons.
"Those with guns who cross to disturb, you should shoot them," the president was quoted as telling border guards.
Presidential spokesman Tamale Mirudi said Museveni was "just stressing the importance of security in the national park, preservation of animals and the safety of the tourists".
"You can cripple tourism for years when one European is killed," he said.
"The president is not saying that all the poachers should be killed on sight. [He\ is stressing the importance of security in Uganda's national parks."
Tourism accounts for 3.7% of GDP, according to World Bank figures, although the sector is seen as ripe for potential growth as visitors look further afield than the more traditional and crowded safari destinations in Kenya or Tanzania.
Museveni is not the first leader in the region to call for a harsh crackdown on poaching.
Last year police and wildlife officers in Tanzania were sent out to stop suspected poachers amid a surge of killings of elephant and rhino in the east African nation.
They were operating under what was reported to be a government-ordered shoot-to-kill policy and made sweeping arrests.
But members of the security forces taking part were accused of numerous killings as well as torture and rape. The operation was halted and four top government ministers fired.
Poaching has risen sharply across Africa in recent years, driven by demand from Asia and the Middle East for rhino horn, ivory and other wildlife products.