Uganda wildlife Authority joined the rest of the globe to celebrate World ranger day held annually on 31st July every year. This day is devoted to recognising the efforts of rangers globally that ensure conservation of wildlife thrives. It is a day to pay gratitude to the rangers for their sacrifice as nature’s most devote custodian and first line of defence.
Executive Director Uganda Wildlife Authority Sam Mwandha in his message to mark the day detailed the important work rangers do in protection of national parks and wildlife reserves. He noted that rangers were at the fore front of fighting poachers as well as tend to visitors that come to enjoy nature in the wild. “The rangers collaborate with all our stakeholders especially communities that neighbour the parks and deal with issues of human wildlife conflict since wildlife often gets out of the parks. These are challenging experiences especially when communities lose their loved ones as a result of wildlife on community land,” he noted. Rangers go through lots of hardships like dying in line of duty on the hands of armed poachers. “They also work in remote and hard to reach areas making it hard to access social amnesties like hospitals, schools and yet they earn low salaries,” he explained.
To celebrate the day, conservation areas organised social responsibility community-based activities on a low scale observing the set Standard Operating Procedures given the current pandemic of corona virus. Bwindi Mgahinga Conservation Area (BMCA) arranged a cleaning drive in Buhoma, Kisoro and Nkuringo as well as a blood donation drive in Bwindi Community Hospital. The clean-up exercise encompassed getting plastics out of the drainage channels and sensitisation of communities on responsible disposal of waste.
In Buhoma park headquarters, celebrations begun from the Visitor Information Centre with a parade headed by Assistant Warden Law enforcement Turyatemba Movadi presided over by Chief Warden Nelson Guma. To take stoke of the sacrifices undertaken by rangers, a profile of one of the long serving rangers Cpl. Ignatius Tumwesigye aged, 51 was read out to the participants by Sgt Okoth Yona. Ignatius Tumwesigye joined conservation work in 1989 at the age of 19 was appreciated for serving with professionalism, dedication and commitment to conservation. He is appreciated.
Chief Warden Guma Nelson highlighted the challenges faced by rangers in the course of their service such as hostility of wildlife they protect, armed poachers, harsh environment, difficult terrain, inadequate accommodation among many challenges. He said despite that, they still work diligently to fulfil their conservation mandate.
Dr. Gladys Kalema of Conservation through Public Health (CTPH) donated 20 GPS devices on behalf of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Tusk Trust to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Mayor Buhoma Town council Moses Bashaija flagged off the general cleaning exercise that started from Nkwenda through to Buhoma and Kacwampare. The day ended with a blood donation drive at Bwindi Community hospital.