By Mucureezi Lindsay, Gayaza High School
On the 13th August 2012 I took part in the essay writing competition discussing climatic change and wildlife organized by Uganda wildlife Authority. This competition propelled me to make a serious research on climatic change and wild life, a thing I had never thought of doing. As I researched I started to discover the interest that I had in the wildlife. For participating in this competition we as participants were sponsored for a fully paid trip to the Murchison falls National Park in the western side of Uganda by Uganda Wildlife Authority management.
On the 9th August 2012, as I arrived I could not hold the excitement and anticipation to have fun. The journey from Kampala was not one I can call short but as we stepped through Masindi and into the wild I could not deny that I felt different with the green vegetation surrounding us in the new natural breeze causing me to forget the smell of the fumes. I quietly thought to myself the beauty of the natural forests as we passed through the extension of Budongo forest. Even before we could reach our destination, the play full baboons welcomed us into the park.
On reaching the bank of the Victoria Nile, we got the chance of riding on the ferry across the river to where we were going to stay. Here still the play full baboons did not hesitate to show us that their favorite food was the sweet bananas and they were yet to teach us that in a park we ought to take care of our property. They surely displayed to us just little of the animal wisdom that we were yet to learn.
The following day we rushed through our breakfast as we hurried for our boat ride on the Victoria Nile. On our ride we got to see a few of the rich animal diversity population in Murchison Falls National Park. It was a ride that got to open my eyes to the beauty of nature. We saw the various schools of hippos, the water bucks, various birds like the African fish eagle, and the Goliath heron and even the crocodiles. The beautiful scenery of Nyamusika cliff is not something one would want to take their eyes off. It is here that you realize a simple bird just looks too beautiful, simple trees make a big difference and fat hippos playing in the water looks so adorable with the cool weather and calm water soothing one’s mind. The spectacular scenery of the Murchison falls leaves you speechless and wondering if this is part of the seven wonders and as for the river beds let you imagine you could walk through them into the jungle.
After our break from the boat ride we made our way further into the savannah forest woodland and grass land vegetation led by the man that I will live to respect our tour guide George who captured our attention with the different animal stories and sounds that quickly spread his love and excitement for the animals having us all with our eyes set to see the animals, the first animal being the giraffe. Now for the giraffe I can say it was breath taking with its beautiful colours, gracefulness, and elegancy. We got to see many animals, the Uganda Kob, and crested cranes, the antelopes and some of the “big five” including the buffalos, the elephants, and most amusingly the lion. I know I got a story that I will live to tell as I saw a lion ran to kill a Kob with my own eyes. For every single animal we saw, we were able to have a satisfactory close look to leave us in awe.
From the ride around the national park we prepared for the camp fire where we shared in the meat roasting. The tour guide George left us inspired as he talked about the wildlife with all the wisdom and authority. He told us many more stories including his own life experience with eight lions and he also taught us animal sounds. We even got to act out an animal story making us feel like we were back in the days, having the feel of the true African culture.
This whole experience of the beautiful scenery, the wild animals, the green vegetation, the feel of being surrounded with beauty left me sure that in a way I thought I was going to just have fun and play around had discovered a precious pearl that lied in Uganda and Africa at large. It left me thinking how unknowingly and carelessly we are as humans tossing away a pearl that many come to seek and see from a far because they are not blessed as we, to possess it. I saw a precious pearl of great wealth surrounding us. From each and every thing that I set my eyes on I can now proudly say I have proof that Uganda is the ‘PEARL OF AFRICA’. But it also left me thinking if in the future our great grand children would ever see this wonder and beauty because of the rate at which we are knowingly and unknowingly destroying the wildlife through our different human activities. The variety of animals, plants, their habitats and their genes on which so much of human life depends, is one of the our most pressing crises. It is estimated that the current species extinction rate is higher than it would naturally be. The main drivers of this loss are converting natural areas to farming and urban development, introducing invasive alien species, polluting or over-exploiting resources including water and soils and harvesting wild plants and animals at unsustainable levels.
Significant progress towards disaster reduction will require us enhancing capacities and reducing vulnerabilities, which includes arresting environmental degradation and improving management of ecosystems and natural resources.
For I cannot deny that I left the national park a different person with a strong passion for the wildlife; thinking of ways I could make a difference in their lives yearning to be another George that could talk to the animals and about them like their friend with wisdom and authority. But I well know I cannot do this on my own but can only work as a team to protect that pearl that many search for and yet we freely have, a pearl that is priceless, a pearl that once thrown away will never be recovered. Let’s work as a team as Ugandans and Africans at large to treasure and protect that so that that in the future to come we will be among the few that still hold their pearl with love and delicacy. Let us treasure the precious pearl that we freely hold and that pearl lies in our hands, ‘’the beautiful wildlife”.