Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned ethologist, UN peace ambassador, and a focal person in the establishment of the sanctuary as a project of the Uganda Chapter of the Jane Goodall Institute, jetted into Uganda to grace the Silver Jubilee of Jane Goodall Chimpanzee Ngamba Island.
She was received by the Executive Director of the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuar,y, Dr. Joshua Rukundo; Priscilla Nyakwera, the Operations Manager at Jane Goodall Institute; Ivan Amanyigaruhanga, Executive Director of Uganda Biodiversity; and James Byamukama, Director of the Jane Goodall Institute.
The 25th anniversary was themed “Partnerships for Co-existence” to promote the need for humans and wildlife to live in harmony in shared environments whose aim is to raise awareness about the importance of conserving chimpanzees and their natural habitats.
It was all chimpanzee hoots and screams from the launch of the celebrations by Dr. Rukundo at Hotel Africana to the public lecture held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel where she said peaceful co-existence between humans and wild animals should start by saving animal habitats.
“Conserving forests for chimpanzees, as the umbrella species, also benefits all other animals,” she said.
“We may be intelligent and clever, but intelligent creatures don’t spoil the world.”
“And it’s not too late to slow down the effects of climate change. Therefore, we shouldn’t compromise the future of the young generation.” She also emphasized the need to delve into the complexities of the emerging high levels of deforestation in major chimpanzee habitats caused by extensive commercial development, so as to slow down the effects of climate change.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Col. (Rtd.) Tom Butime said the public lecture was timely as there are so many infrastructure development projects as well as extraction of minerals and other undersurface resources undertaken in the Albertine region which is the key habitat for chimpanzees.
“This topic creates an opportunity for us to compare notes again and focus on our future and what we can share with generations to come. You all know planet Earth is a magnificent web of life woven together in a delicate thread of ecosystems and species that call it home,” he noted. “In this challenge, the theme of partnership for co-existence confirms we are privileged. Her (Goodall) groundbreaking work with chimpanzees has not only expanded our understanding of the animal kingdom but also ignited a global movement of conservation and co-existence,” the Minister added.
Dr. Goodall was earlier received by Uganda’s First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni, who is also Patron of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary at State House Nakasero, together with members of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, where they discussed the urgent need for environmental education in Uganda.
The First Lady underscored the urgent need for the environment stating:
“Globally, species are facing extinction, largely due to human actions.”
“This underscores the necessity for our communities, especially those in rural areas, to recognize their crucial role in biodiversity preservation. Actions such as deforestation for short-term gains can have long-lasting detrimental effects on the environment, leading to a myriad of regrets. To ensure a sustainable and harmonious future, we must unify our resources, amplify awareness, and prioritize our coexistence with nature. It’s not just about conservation for the sake of wildlife but understanding that the vitality of our environment directly impacts human well-being.”
Other engagements were at Uganda Wildlife Education and Conservation Centre in Entebbe where she unveiled the architectural designs of Roots & Shoots, a youth program of the Jane Goodall Institute launched in 1991 and anchoring in 69 countries which will have its Uganda offices including Wildlife Clubs of Uganda.
Jan Sadek, European Union Ambassador to Uganda, also hosted Dr. Goodall at his residence where the Uganda chimpanzee conservation strategy was launched in the presence of Honorable Tom Butime.
Dr. Goodall’s visit was crowned with a dinner held at Speke Resort Munyonyo hosted by the State Minister of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Honorable Martin Mugarra, who joined hands in cutting a cake in the company of Permanent Secretary Doreen Katusiime, Uganda Tourism Board CEO Lilly Ajarova, Speke Resorts proprietor Jyotsna Ruparelia, Ngamba Islands Dr. Joshua Rukundo, and EU Ambassador to Uganda Jan Sadek among tourism stakeholders and conservationists.
In 1998, Dr. Jane Goodall and a small group of pioneering leaders rescued 13 chimpanzees and started the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Over the last 2 decades, it has grown to support 53 chimpanzees orphaned by the illegal wildlife trade and is recognized as one of the leading primate sanctuaries in Africa.