The official wildlife day, 2018 national celebrations were held on the 3rd of March, 2018 at the Nyakasanga playgrounds in Kasese District, next to the Queen Elizabeth National Park, under the theme “Creating a safe environment for the survival of Uganda’s big cats”.
Leading up to the official event was a wide array of activities such as school quizzes, a marathon, a television talk show, public lectures etc. all involving key conservation stakeholders from Government, local government, civil Society and private sector with the aim of raising awareness about the plight of the big cats and to galvanize support for the national actions that are underway to save these iconic species.
The Chief guest of the day, representing the President of Uganda was the prime minister, the Right Honorable Professor Ruhakana Rugunda accompanied by the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities – Dr. Ephraihm Kamuntu and his state minister Honorable Prof. Kiwanda Godfrey.
The day was marked with exhibitions from UWEC, UTB, BMCT, CTPH, WCS, JGI, UWA, ECOTRUST just to mention a few; showcasing pictorials, products and innovations that have both directly and indirectly promoted the conservation of wildlife in the country. Entertainment came from the local schools in Kasese district expressing the need to create a safe environment for the big cats through music, dance and drama dubbed ‘edu-tainment.’
In his remarks, the Mayor of Kasese Municipality emphasized; the need for an electric fence around the Queen Elizabeth National Park to ensure protection of wild animals and speeding up construction of the airfield and railway system as a way to boost tourism. He suggested that Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) decreases charges levied on national residents and proposed to the cabinet members in attendance a joint trek of Mountain Rwenzori in order to inspire others and promote local tourism. He also expressed the need to speed up amendment of the UWA Act that will ensure compensation of the people who have been affected by wild animals as a remedy to the human – wildlife conflict in the region. To further motivate the locals, the issues surrounding the release of the King of Bunyoro should be expeditated.
Highlights of the day included; signing of the Rwenzori Mountains Marketing Strategy (supported by WWF) by the Chief Guest, an award giving ceremony for winning students / pupils that took part in the school quiz competitions and the recognition of individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to the protection of wild cats in Uganda.