Community and School Outreach
The Outreach section plays a leading role in reaching out to schools and communities that would otherwise not be able to visit the centre. The section promotes Conservation Education programs throughout the country as mandated by the government of Uganda. Among the programs it spearheads are:
a) Rhino Conservation Education program
This program, with support from the Cincinnati Zoo – USA, was implemented in 2008 as an annual activity set in Karuma Conservation Reserve in the Murchison Falls National Park. For a long time now, there have been attempts to re-introduce the Rhino back into the wild, following its extinction in Uganda in 1982, the year when the last rhino was actually last seen in Kidepo National Park. Large scale poaching to meet high market demands in Asia and political insurgencies that were the order of the day then, were among the factors that contributed to the loss of this species.
Before the re-introduction of the Rhinos, community sensitization with emphasis on the young generation has proved essential. Four phases have been completed since then, covering primary schools in the Northern Uganda districts of Lira, Apac, Oyam and Amuru. The program involves workshops for primary teachers and community leaders, radio talk shows and children’s rhino camps at UWEC. A total of 100 pupils from 32 primary schools have so far been engaged in the rhino camps since the inception of the program.
b) Live Animal Exhibitions in the Communities
The team has engaged in a number of regional exhibitions aimed at educating Ugandans about the importance of wildlife conservation with a lot of success. An impressive number of people have been reached directly through this program that begun in 2009. Two years down the road, 12 districts have been reached, over 500,000 people have been sensitized directly and over 4,000,000 people have been sensitized indirectly through mass media, posters, brochure and town drives. In this program, live animals including, Lions, Leopards, Ostriches, Servals cats, African Rock Pythons, Antelopes, Parrots and Monkeys have been exhibited.
c) Bush Meat Conservation Education program
UWEC is implementing the Bush Meat Conservation Education program in Kiryadongo, Oyam and Nwoya districts. The program which begun in 2009, has yielded valuable results. Continuous preaching of bush meat conservation and introduction of alternative livelihoods in these poaching communities, led to 20 poachers abandoning the practice and forming the Ex-Poachers Association to carry on the message we left behind. A documentary entitled “Pushing nature to jeopardy” and posters have been developed to this effect and have so far sold thousands of copies. Currently, a book on the bush meat crisis in Uganda is being written by the Outreach team, which we believe will go a long way in promoting the message of bush meat conservation.
d) Youth Volunteer Re-greening Project
This project, supported by UNDP, was implemented between 2006-2008. Over 550 youths were trained and engaged in regreening and waste management in communities living along Entebbe- Kampala road. Out of eight (8) plant gardens established, six (6) are doing very well and we continue to monitor their success.
e) Community Sensitization Workshops/ Meetings
We hold workshops and meetings on issues of problem animals, bushmeat, regreening, waste management and other environmental issues in communities. We successfully organized workshops and meetings in Buyaga county in Kibale district, Nakiwogo, Seeta and Lutembe in Wakiso district and Kamdin, Nora and Minakulu in Oyam district. Through this approach, we are happy to report that community vigilance is on the rise, gauging from the number of reported cases of problem animals, rescue missions undertaken especially in these areas and the positive responses/compliments on radio programs.
e) School Outreach
This continues to be main activity in the outreach programs, where special and normal school visits are organized. In the special school visit, live animals like snakes and tortoises are carried along and wildlife documentaries shown. This has proved to be captivating to the pupils/students and has gone a step further in enhancing their learning. A total of 20 schools are engaged per trimester through this arrangement.
Commencing 2010, we have integrated Climate Change issues into our Conservation Education program for primary and secondary teachers in conjunction with Curriculum Development at Life Science Centre, National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG). The National Zoological Gardens donated a global warming children’s story book, written and illustrated by Mr. Thomas Labuschagne, graphic designer at the NZG. Mathew van Lierop from Project 90×2030 has also donated a set of 4 different climate change booklets for the teacher. The climate change issues have been integrated into UWEC’s Conservation Education program.
f) Lobbying and advocacy through campaigns
UWEC carries out campaigns on topical environment issues like endangered species, bush meat trade, community problem animals, incorporation of conservation issues into poverty reduction programs, climate change issues, wetland conservation, among others. This is done through community meetings, environment day celebrations and mass media. These campaigns have largely contributed to the change in attitude of policy makers in Uganda.
We welcome all and sundry to be part of the UWEC Outreach programs by offering financial support, donating literary materials and collaborating with us in every small or big way. For more information please CLICK HERE.