Nido using education to fight poaching

Pupils of St. Paul’s Nursery & Primary School in Bwindi pose for a photograph with South Sudanese rapper Emmanuel Jal (in white) and administrators of Nido charity. The Canadian based artiste is an ambassador of the charity which roots for education of young people to enlighten them about the importance of conserving wildlife. 

What you need to know:

  • Poaching is a recurring problem in Uganda and throughout the country’s’ unsustainable levels of illegal hunting has contributed to biodiversity loss

Alfred (seeks anonymity) is a son of a poacher based in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. During the recent Covid-19 lockdowns, he dropped out of school and his father lured him into poaching.
Poaching is a component of wildlife trafficking that threatens some wildlife species’ long-term viability. It is evident that the role of poaching and wildlife trafficking in reducing biodiversity and disrupting ecosystems
According to Alfred, their family wellbeing – like many others - thrives on poaching. It is from here that they also get food and money to pay school fees for his other siblings.

His father, he says, has been at it for years and is constantly battling with rangers.
“I would already be in prison if it was not for an education opportunity extended to me by Nexim International Development Organisation (Nido). Education has also helped me to understand how dangerous poaching is to the tourism sector,” he explains.
The 17-year-old notes that he uses the school holiday period to speak to other young people in the village about the dangers of poaching 
“My prayer is that my peers get a similar opportunity so that animals can be protected from poaching,” he says.

Scholarships to slow down poaching
Nido leverages on education in a fight against poaching by giving scholarships to children of wildlife conservationists and other vulnerable children from Kampala, Wakiso slum areas to improve their lives.
Under the programme, the organisation roots for scholarships for children of poachers whom they support through school, and in a way, do away with a new generation of poachers.

“We understand that poaching has been a result of unemployment and it is always easy for children of parents who cannot afford school fees to join the habit. With each poachers child you take back to school, you slow down the recruitment of a new generation of poachers,” Andrew Kawooya, the Liaison Officer of Nido in Uganda, adding that the organisation has also embarked on supporting the families of wildlife conservationists, by giving their children scholarships to also attract poachers into the conservation movement.

“We have given out 50 scholarships in primary, secondary and Kihihi poli-technical. These people’s children are supported since they can’t manage to educate their children yet they are helping in conserving wildlife,” he explains.
For Uganda to succeed against poaching, awareness regarding the negative effects of the illegal wildlife trade on biodiversity, endangered species, and local communities must be carried out but most importantly, educating the young generation.
He notes that with education, attitudes and perceptions regarding conservation will change and thus creating a long-term behavioural change.

Education with music and sports
Moving forward, Nido intends to not only look at educating just regular students but also making sure that they are equipped with life skills. 
Most importantly through tapping into talent that can help children create their own opportunities.
The project is bolstered with a couple of schools that included Mother Kevin Primary School in Maya where they also accommodate under privileged children from poverty stricken communities.

“We use football as a common identity, boys are being brought together which is in turn creating wellness, leadership trainings and show young people that there is more for life,” Lilian Nansereko,  the Principal of Mother Kevin Primary School.
Under this programme which kicked off in 2019, 250 pupils and students have benefited from the scholarship, according to Ms Nansereko.
Other benefiting communities include; Kanyanya, Tula, Kyengera, Katunguru, Queen Elizabeth National Park, Kihiihi and Bwindi.
Nansereko notes that by the time a child is reintegrated in their community, they should be able to have skills in sports, music, dance and drama.
Soon the organisation plans to start training the children in mechanics, tailoring among others
Good for communities, tourism
Canadian singer, Emmanuel Jal, a Nido ambassador explains that education is a key remedy to conservation in any community.
Jal, a former South Sudanese child soldier notes as early as 1980s, the tourism sector in South Sudan was heavily affected by war, a situation that pushes him to advocate for conservation whenever he gets an opportunity.
On his recent visit to Uganda, he noted that he was humbled when he saw women in communities living near the national parks, actively engaging in wildlife conservation.

“They know if they don’t protect wildlife, tourists will not come and they will not sell their art, food, exhibit their cultures among others,” he explained, adding that music as a form of art can thrive in a society where conservation directly translates into tourism development.
“Uganda has plenty of food; there is food for everyone unlike other countries where people are starving. I toured the game parks and was welcomed by energetic and unique cultural dances. All that is possible if conservation is given a priority,” he said.
He adds that when children are given an opportunity to study, they are able to live a productive life, away from criminal activities.

Poaching and tourism
According to a database compiled by the Monitoring of illegal Killing of Elephants, an international project, the proportion of illegally killed elephants fell by approximately 30 per cent across the African continent and over 90 per cent in Uganda since it peaked in 2011.
In Africa, tens of thousands of elephants are killed by poachers each year. Now, a new study shows that this poaching crisis costs African countries around $25 million annually in lost tourism revenue.
According to econometric model of trading economics, in the long-term, the Uganda Tourist Arrivals is projected to trend around 1400.00 thousand in 2023.
The sector is steadily growing tourist numbers are estimated to have reached 1.5 million per year, contributing 7.7per cent to GDP


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