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The US government has donated a van and 130 smartphones to Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in an effort to support the conservation of Uganda’s environment and combat wildlife trafficking.
As part of the commitment, the US envoy in Uganda, Ambassador Deborah Malac, handed over 130 smart phones and 50 power banks to UWA to improve its ecological monitoring of protected areas.
Through the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and working with the African Wildlife Foundation, the American people also provided a van to UWA’s canine unit to ease movement of sniffer dogs and handlers throughout the country.
The van and phones supplement equipment that USAID previously provided in an ongoing effort to remove Uganda from the list of the “gang of eight” most notorious wildlife and wildlife product transit routes.
The donations also coincided with the celebration of the winners of this year’s Conservation Fine Art Challenge in Entebbe organised by USAID/Uganda’s Biodiversity Program, in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Clubs of Uganda and the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities.
Forty-two winning secondary school students were chosen by the Uganda National Examination Board from over 2,000 contestants from more than 500 schools. The winners, who were hosted by the Uganda Wildlife Education Center and taught wildlife management techniques in a three-day training, were honoured at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center.
In her remarks contained in a statement from the US Embassy in Kampala, Ambassador Malac noted that the U.S Government was committed to working with the Ugandan Government to combat wildlife trafficking. “This we can do by collaborating and strengthening national agencies, including law enforcement and the judiciary, to ensure that wildlife crime cases are appropriately settled.”
In his speech, Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, said; “Conserving Uganda’s natural wealth is fundamental to achieving the vision of becoming a middle-income country. The government appreciates that the youth, who possess talent, energy and potential, are critical in implementing this vision.”
The Conservation Fine Art Challenge aims at creating conservation awareness in all secondary schools across the country. The conservation youth sensitization campaign contributes to the 2017 world wildlife day theme “listen to the young voices,” which encourages youth around the world to rally together to address ongoing major threats to wildlife.