Uganda to Host Second Pan African Primatological Conference

Uganda's Tourism, Wildlife & Antiquities Minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu. /AT Photo
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

The second African Primatological Society Conference will be held at Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel, in Entebbe, Uganda from 2nd to 6th September 2019 and will run under the theme “Primate Conservation in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities” with a focus on policy, practice and sustainability.

Speaking during a press conference earlier today, Uganda’s Tourism Minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu revealed that the main aim of the second African Primatological Society conference is to strengthen the group’s position to serve as a platform for knowledge and experience sharing amongst researchers, conservationists, education practitioners, donors and decision makers across the African continent towards the effective conservation of African primates.

“The theme of the conference makes us reflect on the threats facing primate conservation in Africa,” Kamuntu said.

Adding that, “An estimated 60% of all primate species are threatened with extinction as a result of human activity. The main threats to primate are habitat destruction, poaching, bush meat trade, illegal pet trade and disease.”

Kamuntu further noted that all Great Apes are endangered or critically 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.

Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka (C) Vice President of the African Primatological Society. /AT Photo

On her part, the Vice President of the Africa Primatological Society (APS), Dr Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, noted that in order to enhance conservation of Uganda’s primates, a number of measures had been instituted among which were; involvement of local people in wildlife management decision making, sharing of Protected Area revenues (20%) with adjacent communities as well as 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), chilli 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 network of African primatologists 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.

-Uganda, 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 unrivalled beauty ranging from the great rift valleys to lake basins, rolling plains, tropical forests, 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 inclurough 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.

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