Wildlife conservation is avenue for youth employment says UN Resident Coordinator on World Wildlife DayMar 3, 2018
Kasese, Uganda – Protecting the environment and wildlife can be a key source of employment for the youth, Ms. Rosa Malango has said.
Ms. Malango, the UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Uganda said this while speaking at national celebrations to mark World Wildlife Day.
The celebrations were held in Kasese town, home of the snow-capped Mount Rwenzori and Queen Elizabeth National Park, one of Uganda’s most popular tourist destinations.
Ms. Malango said that these key tourist attraction already provide and would continue to provide jobs for young people in the hospitality industry as well as in environmental and wildlife conservation. Providing an incentive for not only environment and wildlife protection but also promoting responsible tourism.
“Therefore, let us train more guides, more rangers, and more story tellers, let us establish more eco-friendly transportation and support entrepreneurs in arts and culture,” she added.
Ms. Malango also called for substantial investment in road safety to ensure that pedestrians, cyclists and motorists move around safely, “as we promote tourism.”
This year’s World Wildlife Day focused on; ‘Big Cats: Predators under threat while the local theme was; “Creating a Safe Environment for Survival of Big Cats in Uganda.”
Big cats include; the Cheetah, Clouded leopard, Jaguar, Leopard, Lion, Puma, Snow Leopard, and Tiger. Uganda is home to three of these; the lion, the leopard and the cheetah and there is a rapid reduction in the numbers due to; poaching, illegal wildlife trade, climate change and loss of habitant.
“We may wonder, why it is important to celebrate and protect these big cats – after all they are predators. We must remember that they remain important species whose protection also safeguards the vast landscapes they live in. Protecting them is a key part of keeping our entire ecosystem,” Ms Malango said.
Big cats are one of the main tourist attractions in Uganda’s game parks. Statistics from Uganda Tourism Board show that tourists coming to Uganda increased from 540,000 in 2006 over 1.3milion in 2017.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in his remarks delivered by the Prime Minister, Right Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, promised that Government would protect all animals and their habitat.
“Uganda lost a lot of her wildlife to poaching and lawlessness. With the restoration of peace, this has been reversed and Government has now prioritised tourism and conservation,” President Museveni said adding that due to these efforts, the extinction of some species has been reversed.
The President, in his remarks, also warned poachers that their syndicate of wildlife crime and illicit drugs will be defeated. He said Tourism Police Force and a special court have been set up for that purpose.
Hon. Ephraim Kamuntu, the Minister of Tourism said the “Big Cats” anchor tourism.
“If a tourist goes back without seeing a lion, he feels cheated. Lions are loved. The leopard is admired for its stealthiness while every child wants to be as fast as a Cheetah. Where would the world be without these animals?” The Minister remarked.
Godfrey Kabyanga, the Kasese Municipality Mayor, agreed that the big cats “are Uganda’s selling point” and must be protected. He also called for a reduction in entry fees to parks saying that this would boost local tourism.
As part of the activities to mark the day, a “Product Review and Marketing Strategy for the Rwenzoris,” supported by the World Wildlife Fund, was unveiled by the Prime Minister. A National Wildlife Art Challenge 2018 was also launched. Leading conservationists, including a group of former poachers who abandoned the vice, were awarded for their dedication to protecting Uganda’s wildlife. School children from Katunguru Primary School and Mobuku Valley Secondary School also received awards for participating in a conservation quiz competition.
About World Wildlife Day:
World Wildlife Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The day also highlights the importance of protecting wildlife from human destruction.