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Lwengo schools join campaign to conserve the Crested crane

Crested Cranes are facing extinction.

Lwengo, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | 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.

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 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.

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.

Doreen Ankunda, the Lwengo District Education Officer pledged to support the campaign for the good of crane conservation.



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