The campaign follows the death of 60 Gray-crowned cranes, in different wetlands which were poisoned by encroachers in two weeks. The dead cranes were discovered in a survey conducted by ICF to identifying and protecting the crested crane habitats in the district.
Lwengo District and the International Crane
Foundation (ICF) in East Africa have taken the ‘Cranes In a Classroom’ campaign
to primary and secondary schools in a bid to conserve the national emblem which is nearing extinction.
The campaign follows the death of 60 Gray-crowned cranes, in different wetlands which were poisoned by encroachers in Lwengo District about two weeks ago. The dead cranes were discovered during a survey conducted by International Crane
Foundation, as a measure to
identify and protect the Crested Crane habitats in the district.
According to Dr Adalbert Ainomuchunguzi, the ICF Regional Manager, they have decided to take the campaign to schools in order to change the attitude of the young generation towards the Crested Crane and also boost environmental conservation efforts. He explains that engaging the young generation helps them to
become environmental stewards.
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Ainomuchunguzi explained that Uganda’s Crested Crane is so
far the most endangered species in Africa and may soon become extinct if nothing is
done to protect them. He says that while the precious national emblem is protected
under the Uganda Wildlife Authority Act, wetland encroachers and wildlife
traffickers have insisted on trapping or killing them.
He noted that while Lwengo has a limited trade for the Crested Crane, the majority of wildlife traffickers often take the birds
through Rakai to Tanzania which has cost the country dearly. In 2013, he explained, the International Union for Conservation
of Nature (IUCN) put the Crested Crane among the most endangered species which
need special conservation.
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Godfrey Mutemba, the Lwengo District Natural Resources Officer, says
that the school campaign will enhance the efforts of 19 Crested Crane custodians who
voluntarily came out to sensitise communities about the conservation of the Uganda Crane.
He pointed out that the Kiyanja-Kanku wetland, which is the largest habitat for the crested crane in the district is the most affected by encroachment. He says that the farmers intentionally trap and poison the cranes for destroying their crops while others use toxic chemicals to spray
their crops and in turn kill the birds.
According to Mutemba, the district hosts quite a large number of cranes yet different communities
do not know its value which makes the school program significant. He adds that they are promoting community engagement to conserve
the Crested Crane.
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However, Doreen Ankunda, the Lwengo District Education Officer, pledged
to support the campaign for the good of crane conservation.