Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center (UWEC) has received the first ever Wild Animal Rescue Ambulance of its kind, thanks to the Paradise Wildlife Park in United Kingdom and partners.
The UWEC Executive Director, Dr. James Musinguzi while unveiling the ambulance at their premises on Wednesday afternoon, thanked Drive 4 Wildlife Team, Paradise Wildlife Park, UK, the Big Cat Sanctuary, UK, Zoological Society of Hertifordshire and other partners for the donation.
Africa Tembelea understands that the donation of this Ambulance is part of an 11-year-old partnership between Paradise Wildlife Park, UK and UWEC that has seen it’s staff trained in Wildlife conservation.
The 50,000-pound vehicle (about Shillings 243 million) is installed with a strong lighting system to enable rescuers move to the different animal habitats even during darkness, a custom belt and a dash camera that enables management to track the movement of the vehicle especially in dangerous places as well as a siren, medical fridge, winch and is a full time 4 WD car ready for tough terrain.
The ambulance will be able to carry wild animals especially in the cat species, which include Lions, Cheetahs and Leopards. It will also carry Chimpanzees, Baboons and other primates. Despite the limited space of the vehicle, it will require an institution of a crate to enable it transport heavy animals like elephants.
Between 2014 and 2019, UWEC rescued up to 905 wildlife many of which were as a result of the conflict between human activity and wildlife.
“Over the years, we have been carrying out animal rescue. From 2014 to 2019, UWEC rescued up to 905 wildlife among which are 441 birds of different species, 180 reptiles and 284 mammals,” said Dr James Musinguzi.
He said that the main causes of the wildlife challenge has been human wildlife conflict.
Receiving this ambulance is a great achievement for the wildlife industry, but government needs to consider buying alot more in order to improve the industry, which serves as an enabler for Uganda’s tourism.
Under a new structure put in place by the UWEC wildlife Act 2015, Dr Musinguzi said more jobs for personnel in the search and rescue department will be created to help in the rescue of animals endangered by illicit wildlife activities and diseases.
“A toll free hotline is going to be set up with a dedicated rescue team on standby all the time,” Dr Musinguzi added.
Speaking on behalf of Drive 4 Wildlife, Aaron Craig Whitnall said, they were immensely proud to donate the vehicle to UWEC.
“Today we officially donated and unveiled the Drive 4 Wildlife animal ambulance/anti-poaching vehicle in front of the incredible team at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre 🚑🌍🇺🇬🐾,” said Craig Whitnall.
Adding that, there was need for all stakeholders to look at wildlife as a contributor to the country’s tourism earnings and preserve them.
On her part, Flavia Kabahenda, the UWEC Board Chairperson thanked the Paradise Wildlife Park for the offer and noted that, “in a partnership, when we receive such a gift, it goes a long way not only in helping us with wildlife rescue but conservation as well.
Barbara Alapo, the team leader of Curators at UWEC, says communities that encroach on Wildlife habitats have negative perceptions against wildlife.
“With the arrival of this car, our response team has been enriched and we will do our best not only in rescuing endangered wildlife but also in educating the masses about wildlife conservation,” she said.
– About UWEC –
Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) evolved from an animal orphanage set up by the Game Department in 1952 as a sanctuary to care for; the sick, injured, orphaned wild animals, sometimes confiscated from illegal wildlife trade.
In 1994, under the Trustees Incorporation Act Cap 147, UWEC replaced the Entebbe Zoo, and was transformed into a fully-fledged statutory body under the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities by the UWEC Act, 2015.
The UWEC ACT 2015 mandates UWEC to; undertake Conservation Education, wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and breeding of endangered animal species among others.
UWEC is and remains the best wildlife education centre (zoo) in East, Central and West Africa. According to the International Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZA), UWEC’s excellent performance in the areas of management and documentation, visitor facilities, including First Aid and toilets, parking, public and personnel safety in areas of insurance and enclosure safety barriers, exits, signage, management as well as maintenance and emergency procedures make it a top conservation education centre.