Ugandan Celebrities Join Anti-Poaching Campaign

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In short
Some of Ugandas top celebrities, Anne Kansiime, Irene Ntale and Maurice Kirya have joined conservation groups in a news campaign aimed at combating poaching.

Some of Uganda's top celebrities, Anne Kansiime, Irene Ntale and Maurice Kirya have joined conservation groups in a news campaign aimed at combating poaching.

The campaign dubbed "Poaching Steals from Us All" is funded by Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), Uganda Conservation Foundation and Wild Aid. It is also aimed at encouraging Ugandans to report poaching so as to protect the country's wildlife.

Uganda, according to security and conservation groups, is a key transit hub for illegal wildlife products like ivory, pangolin scales and hippo teeth that are smuggled from parks in other African countries and taken out through Uganda borders to destinations such as Vietnam, China and Hong Kong.

In the last nine years, tens of thousands of elephants have been poached for their tusks across the African continent.  Between 2007 and 2014, continental elephant numbers plummeted by at least 30 percent or 144,000 elephants. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 elephants are being poached each year in Africa

In addition to elephants, other African wildlife species are also facing an increasingly threatened future, as consumer countries in East Asia develop markets for hippo teeth and pangolin scales.
 
Anne Kansiime, Irene Ntale and Maurice Kirya have donated their time and voices to the campaign by featuring in Public Service Announcements and short documentaries about wildlife conservation issues in multiple languages including English, Luganda and Runyakitara.

Kansiime, known for her humorous jokes on television and YouTube, passes on the message in a short documentary.
 
//Cue in: "You think is okay to kill…
Cue out… steals from us all."//
   
In another short documentary, Maurice Kirya comes out with his sweet melodies and then drives the message home.
 
//Cue in: " We must speak out….
 Cue out…. steals from us all."//
   
The campaign will focus on long-­term public awareness by elevating the profile of wildlife conservation in Uganda, emphasising the cultural and economic importance of elephants, lions, rhinos,  pangolins, and other threatened species.

Despite the positive steps that Uganda has taken in growing its elephant population, much work has yet to be done in safeguarding the future of this species.

Dr Andrew Seguya, the UWA executive director expressed hope that the new campaign will go a long way towards ensuring that the people of Uganda take greater pride in the wildlife, along with a greater desire to protect it.
 
Michael Keigwin, founder of Uganda Conservation Foundation said Ugandans are extremely concerned that their natural and cultural heritage is being threatened by poachers and the illegal trade in wildlife.
 
Peter Knights, CEO of WildAid, said with gorillas and chimpanzees, in addition to elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions, Uganda is uniquely placed to expand its wildlife tourism industry and create many thousands more jobs in the tourism sector.
 
He, however, observed that poaching and the bushmeat trade threaten not only Uganda's heritage but also its economy.
 
Uganda has one of the few elephant populations in Africa that is showing growth, but with just 5,000 in the country. According to conservation groups, this is still very small and is constantly under threat.

Whilst the vast majority of the illegal ivory trade that moves through Uganda is not sourced from Ugandan elephants,  Uganda is one of three countries (alongside Kenya and Tanzania)  that were responsible for carrying out  80% of all large-scale ivory seizures on the African continent in 2013.