Global Education Children’s Book Launch “The Wildlife Divas Adventure Team: Saving the Endangered Mountain Gorilla” | July 30, 2022

Global Education Children’s Book Launch “The Wildlife Divas Adventure Team: Saving the Endangered Mountain Gorilla”
Remarks by US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown | July 30, 2022

Kampala, Uganda (as prepared for delivery)
I am delighted to join you today on behalf of the United States Government for the launch of “The Wildlife Divas Adventure Team: Saving the Endangered Mountain Gorilla” – a children’s book written by Ms. Lisa Randolph. Today’s event is particularly meaningful to me because it combines two of my favorite things: reading and wildlife. In fact, as a child, the library was a place where my parents allowed me and my sister to go alone, and my hometown is the site of one of the most recognized zoos in the world, and where I celebrated most of my birthdays as a child.

Ms. Randolph’s book promotes American conservation tourism in Uganda using the fictional “Wildlife Divas Adventure Team”. It is such a clever way to reach young people who are considering a career in science, such as conservation biology, and encourages tourism in Uganda. I also really like that the book celebrates the conservation of girls and young women and STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. Mwandha knows firsthand how important it is to me. On my first trip to one of Uganda’s parks, I met the amazing Dr Margaret Driciru, one of UWA’s most experienced vets, and recently texted Sam from Lake Mburo , glad all my guides were knowledgeable women.

As everyone here knows today, Uganda is blessed with incredible biodiversity and home to some of the world’s most iconic species. The US Mission in Uganda appreciates the importance of conservation, both for safeguarding the planet’s biodiversity and for generating economic development. We do this through our ongoing work with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), upgrading biosafety labs like the one the Minister and I inaugurated at Queen Elizabeth National Park last November, the CITES e-permit system that the Minister and I unveiled exactly one year ago, and many other ways. The conservation of the Mountain Gorilla, as well as the contributions that gorilla tourism makes to individual livelihoods and development, for example through income from gorilla tracking tourism activities in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, generate significant revenue for surrounding communities and, more importantly, for additional conservation.

I therefore congratulate Mrs Randolph for shining the spotlight on Uganda through this book and hope that it will attract more tourists to experience the magnificence of Uganda and its biodiversity, and stimulate interest in conservation. of the environment and the role each of us plays.

Around the world, as environmental conditions continue to deteriorate due to climate change and biodiversity loss, conservation knowledge, with a focus on the early years of childhood, is experiencing dynamic growth. in research and practice.

Conservation literacy encourages children to explore the environment and develop cognitive frameworks for understanding the natural world. It lays the foundation for children to develop environmentally-focused skills, values ​​and attitudes as they grow.

We know that strong reading skills are essential for success in school, work and life. The U.S. government supports the development of basic reading skills in the early grades in Uganda and works to establish a culture of reading, encouraging families and communities to make time to read with their children.

To promote a culture of reading, on Drop Everything and Read Day, I recently spent time with students at Buloba Church Primary School in Uganda as well as at Mulago for the deaf. At each site, I read stories to first graders and saw the excitement and interest in the tales. Only by learning to read can children of all abilities read to learn and understand the world around them.

Conservation knowledge can play a role, helping children develop a love for reading and nature that will last them a lifetime. I know I benefited from this exposure as a child. While the childhood zoo visits I mentioned were incredibly formative, it was reading a National Geographic children’s atlas with my mother that made me curious about the world, which led me to a career in diplomacy. Many, many, many years later, I still have this book because it, and the experience of reading it with my parents, was so important to me.

I hope the book launched today will have the same impact on a child and further inspire a community of environmentally active children in Uganda and around the world to engage in meaningful conservation learning experiences. .

And I know it’s possible. I have personally seen the value of involving children in wildlife protection. Over the past year, the U.S. Mission in Uganda has partnered with Peripheral Vision International (PVI), a U.S.-based NGO, to produce two episodes of its hit science and technology television show for African youth. , N*Gen, which sounds like the word “engine”, but means “Next Generation”. The two-part episode on human and wildlife conflict was filmed in Murchison Falls National Park, featuring children from Clarke Junior School here in Kampala and inspiring staff from UWA. It was rewarding to see the children recognize how difficult life is for humans and animals living around a large protected area like Murchison Falls. And the kids loved making a stinky repellent to keep the elephants from raiding the crops! (N*Gen airs here in Uganda and is also on YouTube.)

Efforts like the N*Gen episodes and the publication of this book highlight the importance of promoting conservation at a young age. These efforts also highlight the need for lasting partnerships across different sectors to protect wildlife and conserve our natural resources for future generations. That’s why the United States government is also investing, in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities and the UWA, in conservation ventures led by young Ugandans. These young people are working in their communities to help safeguard Uganda’s vibrant protected areas.

I want to thank all of you here today for your interest and commitment to wildlife conservation. And I want to thank Mrs. Randolph for such an informative and engaging book. Please continue your efforts and be sure to consider ways to tap into the energy, creativity and passion of young people.