CNN-Award-to-kidepoLeading conservationists, tourism industry gurus, development partners, legislators and representatives of government agencies on 30th August, 2013 converged at Kampala Serena Hotel to celebrate success stories in conservation and growth in tourism industry.

Under the main theme as “Celebrating conservation”, the key item was marking the 50 years of Kidepo Valley National Park since it was elevated to a full National Park at the time Uganda gained her political independence.

Other activities to celebrate conservation successes included recognition of women from both UWA and the wider public for leadership in conservation, recognition of fallen wildlife heroes who lost lives in the line of protecting wildlife, launch of the wildlife card and the launch of the new Kidepo brand.

Uganda minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities (MTWA) Dr. Maria Mutagamba was the chief guest while the United States Ambassador to Uganda Mr. Scott De Lisi, his wife and several senior staff from the embassy, the USAID Mission, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) and various airlines graced the colorful function festooned by the Karamoja cultural themes.

Other attendees came from the Parliament of Uganda Tourism, Trade and Industry committee led by its chairperson Mrs Flavia Kabahenda, Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO), Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA),Civil Aviation Authority, leading commercial banks, oil companies, conservation agencies among others.

The US ambassador Scott De Lisi an ardent lover of Nature who has been to Kidepo Valley National Park twice, launched the wildlife card and became the first owner of a customized card along with the minister and the Permanent Secretary Ambassador Patrick Mugoya.

In her remarks, Dr. Mutagamba hailed UWA for efforts to conserve and protect Uganda’s natural heritage inspite of the attending challenges which she said government was devising strategies to address them.

She also congratulated UWA and the entire conservation and tourism fraternity for the various successes registered in the industry which has led to several international accolades. She appealed to the local and international community to take advantage of the restored security in the Karamoja region to visit Kidepo, which is Uganda’s true wilderness.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director Dr. Andrew Ggunga Seguya appreciated the role played by the staff, partners and frontline communities in preserving the integrity of KVCA and other protected areas to transform them into premier tourism destinations.

He presented the prominent women for the excellence in conservation having worked tirelessly for most of their lives to protect wildlife. He also paid tribute to people, who had been injured or lost their lives in line of duty and prayed for their souls rest in eternity

During the function, four lucky raffle winners landed vouchers to visit Kidepo Valley and Bwindi Impenetrable National Parks courtesy of AeroLink, Sanctuary Retreats and Uganda Safari Company which operates Apoka Safari Lodge. The four are Mr. Simon Nampindo of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Mr. Phillip Kalwani of the Pearl Guide, Joseph Buwule, a journalist with Landmark Media consult and Kevin Prince of the US embassy in Uganda.

Crane Performers entertained the celebrants with cultural music and dance.

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