By Gerald Tenywa
There will be no gold or silver or bronze medals after the race dubbed “Run for Nature 2014” on September 7 in Kampala.
All participants in the race are expected to be winners since the proceeds will contribute to the conservation of Budongo forest reserve in Hoima.
Bugoma, which is sitting on 41,144 hectares in Hoima with one of the largest population of chimpanzees, is under threat from illegal timber harvesting, charcoal burning and encroachment.
According to Constantine Pessarim of Destination Jungle, the run is being organised by a consortium of non-Governmental Organisations, private sector and Kyambogo University. He said they are targeting to raise sh20m that will restore degraded parts of Bugoma.
The run will cover 5km and 10km starting at 7am from Kati-Kati restaurant located along Lugogo Bypass towards the shopping complex housing Forest Mall and Lugogo Shoprite.
“Bugoma is facing of destruction and we have decided to form a consortium to save it,” said Pessarim, adding that their campaign will ultimately contribute to awareness and conservation.
A study undertaken by Kyambogo University and the Uganda Wildlife Society, which are part of the consortium, discovered that forest guards have not been paid for months due to inadequate funding.
Other findings include contested ownership due to lack of clear boundaries and claimants resisting Government conservation efforts on grounds that the forest is partly sitting on their ancestral land.
The study also faulted the National Forestry Authority (NFA) for weak programmes that have failed to secure Bugoma, which is one of the few remaining forest in the famous wildlife corridor for mammals moving from Murchison Falls National Park to Kibaale National Park and Semliki.
Gilbert Kadilo, the spokesperson of NFA said conservation of forests is a big challenge but they are moving into Bugoma to secure its boundaries. “Bugoma is one of the 18 forests where we are going to demarcate boundaries this financial year,” he said.
Paul Hatanga, the programme manager for Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust said the country’s deforestation estimated at 92,000 hectares every year has reduced the habitats for the chimpanzees.
He said the Conservation Trust has interventions outside protected areas.
“Conservation agencies have been focussing on the protected areas but over 500 chimps stay in areas outside Bugoma,” he said, adding that they are providing incentives to private land owners to conserve nature.