Budongo Conservation Field Station takes conservation campaigns to schools

They're doing this through the chimpanzee challenge competitions.

By Our Reporter

Masindi: As one way of inculcating the culture of conservation among human beings, Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) in Budongo Sub County Masindi district has redirected its efforts to schools.

According to the Field Director of BCFS, David Eryenyu, they’re doing this through the chimpanzee challenge competitions.

‘’Last year, we started the chimpanzee challenge competitions, and they are going to be continuous; they are aimed at informing learners on the importance of chimpanzees, how to harmoniously live with them, and how to conserve the environment,” he said last week during the second edition of the chimpanzee challenge competitions at BCFS headquarters.

“We are interested in engaging schools and making people knowledgeable so that they’re able to act. We need to learn how to use forests sustainably. What affects the environment are the communities; that’s why we are engaging the learners so that they can pass on the information,” he noted, adding that the chimpanzee challenge is one of the ways of sensitizing the people.

The Senior Education Officer of Masindi district, Kato Adolf, commended BCFS for involving schools in the competitions, adding that schools are very useful in sharing information and knowledge because they can easily transfer it to the communities.

“These young children learn faster than adults; this will help them to stay focused. This is a supplement to what we teach them in the curriculum; you are concretizing what we teach,” explained Kato.

Last week, twenty-eight primary schools and three secondary schools from the two districts of Masindi and Buliisa participated in the competitions themed Fostering Human Wildlife Coexistence, which were organized by BFCS.

St. Kizito Secondary School from Kabango Town Council was crowned the champion among the secondary schools after attaining 73%, while Nyabyeya Primary School from Budongo Sub County Buliisa District emerged as the winner after scoring 89%.

Last week, on November 22, 2023, a team of judges composed of Philip Kihumuro, the project manager at WWF Kagadi, Basigirenda Boaz, the NFA Budongo Systems range manager, and RDPs Barbrah Anyango assessed the top schools at the grand finale. The participating schools were assessed on innovation, clarity of the problem, how to solve the problem, presentation, and implementation.

The guests were mesmerized by the dramas presented by the students, their public speaking skills, the practical poems presented, and the talents the young people showcased during the competitions, among others.

The champions walked away with 1.2 million shillings each, the second runners-up 1 million shillings each, and the third runners-up 800,000 shillings. The participating learners were also given scholastic materials like books, among others.

Presiding over the competitions, Moses Kirya, the Masindi district speaker, noted that the competitions are helping to find practical solutions to human wildlife conflicts and environmental conservation.

“I am an environmentalist. But these children are demonstrating what I learned at the university. I am enticed to see what I learned from the university being done here practically. Their demonstration has reminded me of what to do to sustainably conserve the environment. Most of us are not doing what we’re supposed to. There’s a lot of political interference in the management of the environment,” he said.

He added that he was optimistic that the children who participated would grow into responsible citizens who could manage the environment well.

The Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Masindi Sanon Dhaala, said it’s high time every stakeholder redirected efforts towards the conservation of the environment.

“We are seeing many disasters because the environment has been harassed by human activities. We need to learn from the disasters we have seen so far. Let’s use this opportunity and learn what we didn’t know. We need to conserve the environment because it also earns revenue for the government,” he added.

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