Japanese Royals Tour UWEC
We were much honored to receive His Royal Highness, Prince Akishino and his wife, Princess Akishino, at UWEC on 15th June. The Royals were on a three day visit to Uganda to boost diplomatic relations between the two countries. They visited several projects supported by the Japanese government, UWEC being one of them.
Upon arriving at the centre, they were welcomed by two young girls who presented bouquets of sweet scented flowers, before the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, the UWEC management and members of the board officially welcomed them. They toured the information centre, which bears a glimpse of the tourism activities and products available in Uganda. They also got to see the bone piecing work done by members of staff who had previously been to Japan through the Yokohama Zoos-UWEC exchange program.
They went on to participate in the Behind-the-Scenes program with the Shoebill Stork and the Pythons, before heading to the giraffe viewing point to plant a memorial tree. The horticulturalist explained that Prunus Africana, the tree that he gave them to plant, is an evergreen tree traditionally used to cure fevers, malaria, stomach pains, among others; and is a favored food supply for animals.
Their visit could not possibly be considered complete without hand feeding the giraffes. This was obviously an exciting moment for them and they would have continued if it were not for the tight schedule. In appreciation for their visit and consideration, the UWEC management presented portraits of the Gray Crowned Crane, the Shoebill Stork and the Giraffe symbol, in remembrance of UWEC.
UWEC, through partnership with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has benefited quite a lot from the Zoo Exchange Program, through which a number of staff have shared lifetime skills in wildlife care and management. Through the same, the centre has received donations in kind for use in the veterinary unit, including incubators and anaesthetic machines.
Prince and Princess Akishino’s visit to Uganda was the first time Japanese royals were touring an African country and we believe we greatly contributed to making their tour a memorable one.