Uganda 2015

It has now been over a month since I arrived back in the UK from the QE Parks Project 2015 Ranger visit to Uganda. The aim of this particular trip was to provide a 5 day training course for Rangers focused on customer care and environmental interpretation at the request of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Other aims of the visit included visiting Murchison Falls National Park, refreshing a twinned school connection, connecting with rangers and promoting Nature’s Frontline. I also took this opportunity to do a little research for the PGT project!

After a night at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe and a meeting at UWA headquarters in Kampala, we left for Murchison Falls National Park accompanied by UWA staff.

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Murchison Falls NP lies in Western Ugandan and within the northern section in Uganda’s Albertine Rift Valley. The Victoria Nile flows into the park from Lake Victoria, into Lake Albert and leaves Lake Albert as the Albert Nile. One of the highlight of the park is its name sake, the spectacular Murchison Falls, where the Victoria Nile pours over the Granites and Schists of the Rift Valley. We enjoyed fantastic hospitality in the Paraa Safari Lodge and from the friendly team at Kabalega Wilderness Lodge. We spent 2 days exploring Murchison NP. We went on a game drive, boat trip to Murchison Falls and the Nile crossing vehicle ferry. We also drove to the top of the falls, where the view was stunning and the water was so powerful that we got soaked! All the team were sad to leave Murchison NP, but very excited to reach Queen Elizabeth National Park; particularly apprentice ranger Joe, who had never been to QE before!

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Before we left Murchison NP we met with Julius, the head of law enforcement at the park. He showed us the haul of weapons and traps that poacher’s use within the park which had been recovered by his rangers. He and his team have made enormous progress since a crackdown was declared in the park. They do an amazing job, putting their lives on the line to protect and conserve the environment and wildlife. You can find out more about the work these rangers do at Nature’s Frontline.

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10 hours after leaving Murchison NP we arrived in Queen Elizabeth National Park. It was     not the best start as we had an illness in our team, however, once we’d relaxed and explored over the weekend we were ready to begin the training course.

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The training course began with an introduction from one of UWA’s directors, the Conservation Area Manager and the Warden in charge at the park. Once opened, we began the training with customer care. The aim of the first two days was to give the rangers an insight into the expectations of western tourists as well as getting the rangers to develop their skills dealing with customers. The following two days looked at environmental interpretation. We analysed the ‘classic African safari’ experiences, including game drives, bush walks and boat trips, to ensure ranger guide could help visitors get the most out of their adventures. The course finished with a day of review, closing ceremony and celebration!

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The following weekend we headed into Kasese, the local town, for a wander around the market and to stock up on supplies. On Saturday night we enjoyed a meal with two of the researchers from the University of Exeter’s mongoose research project.

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On Monday 29th we got up early to drive down to Bukorwe Primary School. We had a great time playing rugby and other games with the children. A productive meeting with the new head teacher ensured the strength of the twinning agreement between Bukorwe and Clanfield Junior School in the UK. On the drive back we explored the QENP’s southern sector, Ishasha, and saw the tree climbing lions!

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Tuesday saw us begin our journey back to Entebbe. After a couple of days of meetings and an adventure into Entebbe to get pizza and burgers from a shopping centre, it was time to board our flight back to the UK.

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I very much enjoyed my second visit to Uganda, and feel that this was a productive trip. It was fantastic to be a facilitator at a training course for rangers from all 10 of Uganda’s national parks. Continuing with life back in the UK is strange upon arriving back from Uganda. It almost as if you expect some sort of change, but life goes on as normal. I am now motivated to develop the PGT project further and have plenty to get on with over the rest of the summer!

Thanks to Jan Allnutt, Joe Williams, Steve Peach, Uganda Wildlife Authority, QE Parks Twinning Project and Nature’s Frontline!

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