BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU
ARUA: WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2022
The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has launched a fundraising campaign aimed at mobilizing resources for conservation of Silver-back Gorillas.
UWA- Bwindi, in partnership with “GORILLAS our friends FOREVER” Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH), Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-Evan), and local communities of Bwindi launched the fundraiser on the 10 years’ memorial anniversary of Silver-back gorilla Ruhondeza who was laid to rest on June 27, 2012.
Ruhondeza was the family head of pioneer Silver-back gorillas habituated for tourism in Uganda, thus creating a legacy that has reportedly earned Uganda millions of shillings in terms of tourism revenue and spurred socioeconomic transformation.
The fundraising drive, according to a report by the Kanungu district information officer, Twaha Adams Mwajuma, was held at UWA Bwindi Visitors’ Information Centre and was attended by Dieter Beller from Germany as the chief coordinator of the campaign.
Dieter appreciated the commendable work done by UWA in protecting the gorillas and the Bwindi impenetrable forest, and briefed the audience about the campaign that aimed at mobilizing funds to enhance local community livelihoods and induce associated further support for gorilla conservation.
Dieter reiterated that the initial stages of the campaign had already raised funds that supported construction of two water tanks of 50,000 litres each in Ruhija and Kyogo areas.
He informed the audience that another aspect of the campaign is “Planting a million (1,000,000) trees” through distributing fast growing softwood tree seedlings to the local communities for both fruits and firewood thus protecting the National Park against illegal plant harvesting.
Joseph Arineitwe, Warden Ecological Monitoring and Research, who represented the Chief Warden, said that mountain gorillas were initially perceived to be very hostile until Silver-back Ruhondeza, the leader of the first gorilla family to be habituated in Uganda (Mubare family) demystified the perceptions by calmly accepting that his family be habituated for tourism in a short period of time lasting for about two years.
Ruhondeza is believed to have lived for approximately 50 years and seen more than 50,000 people before his death.
Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the CEO and Founder of CTPH, reminded the community about the importance of protecting wild animals.
She said she was very glad that Ruhondeza died of a natural death and not human disturbance.