International Wildlife Day 2023: UPC calls for preservation of Crested Crane, environment 

(Last Updated On: 1 March 2023)

Uganda will on Friday, March 3, 2023, join the rest of the World to celebrate International Wildlife Day. 

According to Wildlife Day, on 20 December 2013, at its 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), it was proclaimed that 3 March – the day that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was signed in 1973 – as UN World Wildlife Day.

The day celebrates and raises awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. The UNGA resolution also designated the CITES Secretariat as the facilitator for the global observance of this special day for wildlife on the UN calendar.

“World Wildlife Day has now become the most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife,” additional information found at Wildlife Day official website reads. 

Ahead of Friday, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party says celebrating the day “gives us an opportunity as a country to reflect and refocus our plans for conservation of wildlife which demands a lot of souls searching as to why we are not offering the best wildlife conservation as opposed to mere celebrations!”

The celebration will be held under the theme “Partnerships for Wildlife Conservation” and for Uganda, Tororo district will host it. 

“Some of us in society are a danger to wildlife through poor utilization of our natural resources especially land, forest cover, and water resources. We constantly make land infertile by adopting poor farming methods and these forces to open up more virgin lands and the cycle repeats itself,” says Arach Oyat Sharon, the spokesperson of the UPC party.

She adds that these virgin lands constitute our natural forests like Mabira and Budongo “that is under threat by encroachers” for the cultivation of crops, timber production, firewood, and charcoal burning.

“Our partnerships for wildlife conservation are now very weak and it had to lead to a strong demonstration to preserve Mabira rainforest from being opened up for large-scale sugar plantations,” she recalled, adding that this prompted a government delegation to visit Mabira and halted the idea of opening up a sugar plantation as well as an immediate afforestation drive.

 “Human activities are causing the extinction of species and depleting natural resources thus threatening their well-being and the diversity of all life,” says Dr. Mathias Behangana, Uganda’s Herpetologist currently working with Makerere University’s Department of Environmental Management.

Other natural forests and ordinary bushland are cleared of vegetation and replaced with new trees like pines and eucalyptus which are not environmentally friendly as they over-exhaust water from the soil and other soil nutrients, making the land infertile within a short period. Their plantation should be limited by the government and instead promote more environmentally friendly tree species like mangoes, jackfruit, avocado, mahogany, Mvule, and those of herbal value.

 The country is at the crossroads with our national emblem, the Crested Crane, which is endangered, according to the UPC party, further adding that most of its natural habitats, which are wetlands, are being cleared for intensive cultivation, brick making, sand mining and human settlement across the country. 

 According to a finding by the Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda could only be having 1% of its total wetland cover by 2040 from 13% as of 2022 if the rates at which wetlands are being depleted remain constant. 

 Luganda David Nsiyonna is the Team Leader at UNEP – Ecosystem-Based Adaptation for Food Security. He recently said, “Insufficient Knowledge of wetland values and importance to the community due to inadequate data and information has been pointed out as the main reason for wetland degradation to other land use transpires.”

“UPC calls upon the line Ministry of Water and Environment together with NEMA to step up and preserve our national symbol, the crested crane, and environment. A combination of wetlands, rivers, and lakes offers the best fish breeding grounds in the calm waters. The moment you infringe on this eco-habitat, the results may not be good at all! Some fish species can completely disappear in such circumstances which should be paid attention to.”

Certainly, the government and its agencies should come in and encourage better utilization of flora and fauna. “Killing of wild animals should be done under culling methods (getting rid of excess stock for better land management). For plants or trees, we should have a replanting strategy in place,” the political party has urged.

Further, Arach says the future of humanity depends very much on how best we preserve our environment and limit or eradicate signs of climate change that are leading to global warming.

Making a theme of wildlife day celebrations as “partnerships for wildlife conservation”, simply means that we are starting to wake up to the need for a better world where we have a cherished destiny.

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