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UGANDA HOSTS SECOND AFRICAN PRIMATOLOGICAL SOCIETY CONFERENCE

Uganda positions as the primate capital of the world; boasting total of 15 primates species including the endangered mountain gorillas and chimpanzees.

September 3, 2019. The second African Primatological Society Conference has today kicked off at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, in Entebbe, Uganda and will go 6th September 2019. The conference will run under the theme “Primate Conservation in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities” with a focus on policy, practice, and sustainability.

Addressing participants at the official opening of the event, Hon. Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities noted that a total of over 10% of Uganda’s landscape is gazetted for conservation; a signal of the country’s commitment to protecting the great apes and other endangered primate species.

He said, “ There is hope for the conservation of primates and I am happy that this conference aims to strengthen, position and serve as a platform for knowledge and experience sharing amongst researchers, conservationists, education practitioners, donors and decision-makers and has been hosted in Uganda; the primate capital of the world.

Kamuntu further noted that all great apes are endangered and are also particularly at risk from human-related diseases due to their close genetic relatedness to people. “A concerted effort is needed to address these threats, through increasing the level of involvement and commitment from stakeholders,” he added.

The Minister observed that the congress was relevant to the interest of protecting critically endangered and endangered primates and also for preserving primate diversity in their natural habitat. This he said would be achieved through promoting primate research and improving the conservation of African primates by encouraging greater involvement and leadership of African primatologists.

Speaking at the conference, Inza Kone, the President of the Africa Primatology Society Conference noted that today’s primates are the most threatened group in the world. He, however, adds that this can be controlled with a concerted effort on conservation, research, and involvement of the continents primatologists.

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the Vice President of Africa Primatological Society (APS), noted that in order to enhance the conservation of Uganda’s primates, a number of measures through the Uganda Wildlife Authority and other partners had been instituted among which were; involvement of locals in wildlife management decision making, sharing of Protected Area revenues (20%) with adjacent communities as well as the establishment of wild animal barriers like trenches (237km), buffalo wall (16km), Mauritius live fences (192.5km), and crocodile cages (12) electric fencing (10km construction ongoing at Rubirizi).

Other measures include the use of beehives (8,557 hives), chili cakes, buffer crops like tea to prevent human-wildlife conflicts, regulated protected area resource access and empowerment of communities to engage in alternative livelihoods like community tourism, she added.

“The African Primatological Society will brighten the future of primate conservation in Africa through a network of African primatologists who are fully established and strengthened,” Dr. Kalema said.

She noted that opportunities are created to enhance the knowledge and skills of African Primatologists and that there was more commitment and leadership from African Primatologists in primate research and conservation.

According to the CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, promotion of eco-tourism, tourism product diversification and lobbying are some of the steps being taken by the board to conserve the country’s wildlife.

About Uganda; the primate capital of the world

Uganda boasts of a rich and diverse wildlife heritage owing to its unique location at the zone of overlap between the savannah of East Africa and the rainforests of West Africa. The country is distinctly blessed with spectacular landscapes of unrivaled beauty ranging from the great rift valleys to lake basins, rolling plains, tropical forests, and vast savannahs to permanently snowcapped mountains. The numerous landforms and habitats support rich and varied wildlife species and communities.

In terms of primate richness, Uganda is host to 53.9% of the world’s remaining population of Mountain gorillas, and 8% of the global mammal diversity (which is 39% of Africa’s mammal richness).

Uganda has 15 species of primates of which four of them are endangered, the mountain gorilla, chimpanzee, red colobus monkey, and golden monkey.

This rich wildlife biodiversity has been conserved through a robust policy and legal framework including the establishment of a network of wildlife Protected Areas covering about 10% of the country’s total land surface. These include 10 National Parks, 12 Wildlife Reserves, 10 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 5 Community Wildlife Areas.

Besides the rich primate diversity, Uganda also has 19% of Africa’s Amphibian species richness, 14% of Africa’s reptile species richness and 1,249 recorded species of butterflies. The rich wildlife endowment is the number one competitive edge to develop Uganda into a top tourism destination in Africa.