New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: New Initiative to Interest Kids in Nature, Environment

An initiative code-named "I Support Chimpanzees" has been launched to interest children in nature and the environment.

During an occasion held at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, the minister for tourism and antiquities, Maria Mutagamba took time to talk about the campaign.

It will include a series of activities every year through educational programmes in schools and communities, corporate and SME (small and medium enterprise) partners, he said.

"I Support Chimpanzees" will not only promote domestic tourism, but will also raise funds towards protection of chimpanzees as part of Uganda's natural heritage.

The minister hailed the campaign as a means of raising awareness of endangered natural resources and their cultural heritage and also boosting international and domestic tourism.

"It is time Ugandans visited museums, historical sites, game parks, climb mountains and have nature walks," she advised. "The ministry pledges support for the campaign and urges every Ugandan to support it."

"We must also engage our children in programmes like this one that will enable them fully appreciate their country while they are still young."

The ambitious event attracted several players in the industry, which included Sheraton Hotel, SN Brussels, UWA and UTB. Also present were children who have visited Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary and gave testimony of their visits.

The campaign starts December 2 with Chimpanzee Children's Christmas carnival that will take place at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.

Executive Director of Chimpanzee Sanctuary & Wildlife Conservation Trust (CSWCT) Lilly Ajarova said: "We want to approach conservation education through the children who will be good ambassadors in the future and therefore this carnival will be a great opportunity for parents to informally interest their children in protection and promotion of wildlife as we seek to create new ambassadors for the future generation."

Ajarova said the carnival will be followed by a number of other activities that will take place throughout the year.

Some of the planned activities include taking school groups to the island, having wild games, road shows, to mention but a few.

Martin Raymond Kikonyoga, a child visitor to Ngamba Chimpanzee sanctuary testified to his memorable visits there.

"I first went to the Island three years ago, and since then I have gone back there about five times but still feel like going there again and again. In my visits I have seen not only chimps but also varies species of birds, otters and reptiles like monitor lizards."

"Through these visits I felt a good sense of relaxation, even if I saw the chimps in captivity, it was captivating. Being on the island was lovely and it taught me several things.

And his final remark. . .

"I therefore urge fellow children to visit the parks and, like me, get to know about Uganda's biodiversity which I did not know."

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