President Museveni gives the Rhino Fund Uganda the thumbs up

PRESIDENT MUSEVENI GIVES HIS BLESSING FOR A SECOND RHINO SANCTUARY

(Posted 24th December 2014)

Angie Genade, Executive Director of the Rhino Fund Uganda and of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, this week had a double reason to smile. On a very personal note did she celebrate her 31st wedding anniversary to Johan Genade and that alone was worth a celebration. The two South Africans have made Uganda their permanent home for more than a decade now. While Johan owns and operates the Amuka Safari Lodge has Angie become the country’s proverbial Rhino Lady, leading from the front at Ziwa and through her passion for conservation moving the proverbial mountains.

However, that event was probably, at least in professional terms, outdone by having a meeting with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at State House in Entebbe, where she, on behalf of the Rhino Fund, was able to brief the President on some key developments which can now be told here too.

She was able to brief the President that the three adult females are pregnant again, which will in due course bring the number of rhinos on Ziwa from 15 to 18. Having started out with just 6 adult rhinos on Ziwa – sadly is the female kept at UWEC in Entebbe going to reproductive waste due to the intransigence of the management there – has this number risen to 15 in the space of just a few years. The reproduction rate on Ziwa is at an unprecedented cycle of just over 2 years, way below average breeding programmes elsewhere, resulting in 9 young rhinos being born and three more underway.

In fact, rangers have reported that one of the firstborn females, now 4 years old, has apparently been ‘seeing’ one of the older bulls, perhaps resulting in yet another pregnancy and if so, this would be the first of one of the initial offspring, giving hope for yet faster reproduction.

She then informed the President that HRH The King of Tooro and the Queen Mother had consented to partner with the Rhino Fund Uganda with the aim to setting up a second rhino sanctuary within the Tooro Kingdom in a suitable area.

Alongside establishing another sanctuary will come a ranger training academy together with a medical centre, a school and a tourist grade safari lodge, all aimed to create additional employment through tourism in the kingdom.

Wrote Angie Genade in a mail received earlier today: ‘The President enthusiastically and without hesitation gave the Rhino Fund Uganda his full support after I had requested this from him’. The President then, according to Angie’s mail, went on to say that he acknowledged the initiative undertaken towards the rhino reintroduction program in Uganda and in particular thanked the Rhino Fund Uganda for the extraordinary work they were doing in rhino conservation for Uganda. The President further pledged his personal support in rhino conservation and will make efforts to bring more rhinos into Uganda.

Good news all round that is, both the President taking a personal and apparently keen interest and of course the fact that the three adult females are in the family way once again.

The Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary is located just two hours’ drive from the capital Kampala enroute to Murchisons Falls National Park and has become a must see experience for tourists and locals alike. Entrance to the sanctuary is free although the tracking on foot, accompanied by rangers and guides, requires a donation to RFU, which is set up as a not for profit conservation NGO.

This correspondent is closely linked to the Rhino Fund and the re-introduction and breeding programme as it was under his chairmanship (2001 – 2008) that the sanctuary was established and the first 6 rhinos brought to Ziwa before in 2012 stepping up again as Acting Chairman until the election of a new Board of Directors in April this year.

It is all about leaving a legacy for Uganda which is my adopted country. The Eastern Black and Northern Whites were poached out of existence in Uganda in the lawless days of Amin and the subsequent dictatorships. It was Ray Victorine who first launched the idea of forming the Rhino Fund and when he left the country I was privileged to be called upon to become Chairman of the Board, to give my time, expertise and my connections to help develop the Rhino Fund. I am immensely proud of our accomplishments, and pay tribute to Yvonne Verkaik, our first Executive Director and then Angie Genade, both of whom went way beyond the call of duty to turn our dreams into reality. My thanks also go to Capt. Joe and Mrs. Daisy Roy who granted RFU land use rights on Ziwa for an initial 30 year period, to our donors and wellwishers, among them the European Union, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and US Fish and Wildlife, the Ministry of Tourism for their unwavering support, to the various UWA Executive Directors who served ex officio on our board and last but not least to the rangers, guides and staff on the sanctuary who have kept the rhinos safe all these years. Ziwa today is a key tourism attraction as it brought the missing link of the Big Five back to Uganda. Stepping down today as chairperson opens the way for new ideas by the new board members. The old guard if I may call ourselves that, ourselves being the outgoing board, have taken RFU as far as we could. Now is the time for the new team to look at perhaps a second sanctuary, perhaps the introduction of the Eastern Black species and to raise the profile of RFU to new levels with our donors and development partners’ said this correspondent at the time to a media representative present at his final board meeting as chair.

Angie in a subsequent exchange of mails and messages today also expressed her personal satisfaction that the President himself has now endorsed RFU as the pioneer of preparing for and then implementing the rhino re-introduction project and the successful breeding programme undertaken over the past nearly 13 years.

For added information on RFU and the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary visit www.rhinofund.org

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