ENTEBBE — The 2nd African Primatological Society Conference on Tuesday kicked off at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda with a focus on highlighting the plight of African primates.
Speaking during the official opening of the conference, Uganda’s Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Ruhakana Rugunda who was represented by Tourism Minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu observed that about 60% of all primate species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activity.
“An estimated 60% of all primate species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activity. The main threats to primates are habitat destruction, poaching, bush meat trade, illegal pet trade and disease,” Rugunda said.
Rugunda called for concerted effort to help address these threats, through increasing the level of involvement and commitment from stakeholders.
“This will be achieved by promoting primate research and improving the conservation of African primates by encouraging greater involvement and leadership of African primatologists,” Rugunda added.
On his own behalf, Prof Eprahim Kamuntu said, Uganda’s tourism is nature-based meaning that it thrives on wildlife including Mountain Gorillas.
He pointed out that Uganda has 54% of the world population of Mountain Gorillas living in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga in southwestern Uganda. The rest of the Mountain Gorilla population is found in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Kamuntu thanked Dr Gladys Kalema Zikusoka, the vice president of APS for lobbying the conservation fraternity to bring the congress to Uganda.
Uganda hosts the meeting from 3rd to 6th September, under the theme “Primate Conservation in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities” with a focus on policy, practice and sustainability.
It is the first time that APS’s Conference is hosted by the east African country.
The meeting has brought together scientists, researchers, conservationists, education practitioners, donors and primate experts to discuss pressing issues relating to primate conservation and protection.