Religious leaders join campaign to save rhinos

"We ask all Christians to protect and defend our most endangered species in Uganda such as the rhinoceros, gorillas and the elephants.”

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PIC: Rhinos graze inside Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district. (Credit: Abou Kisige)


NAKASONGOLA - Religious leaders have partnered with Rhino Fund Uganda and WildAid to end illegal wildlife trade which is threatening the rhino population in Uganda.

The clerics, under the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), said the partnership is aimed at uniting against the killing of endangered species caused by illegal wildlife trade.

"We cannot keep on seeing this glory diminish by our sin, greed and foolishness; we should be horrified and speak out against this wanton destruction of the wonderful creatures God gave us," said Msqr. Charles Kasibante, the chairman of the IRCU executive board.

Kasibante made the remarks while touring Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district as part of the activities to launch the partnershiP. The three-year campaign is under the theme: 'Poaching steals from us all’.

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From left, The Vicar General of the Orthodox Church Paul Mutasa, the Deputy Mufti of Uganda Mohammed Waiswa and Chairman of the executive board of IRCU Msgr. Charles Kasibante listening to Raymond Opio, a ranger with Rhino Fund Uganda

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Kasibante called upon Christians to protect the gifts of God in nature and in particular, in this time of deep crisis of creation caused by human folly and sin.

"We ask all Christians to protect and defend our most endangered species in Uganda such as the rhinoceros, gorillas and the elephants.”

The Vicar General of the Orthodox Church Paul Mutasa said as religious leaders they are going to use their powers to reach the hearts and minds of the public at all levels of society to preach against poaching because it steals from us all.

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The Deputy Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Mohammed Waiswa called upon the general public to repent and seek to do all in their powers to protect and preserve rhinos for posterity for the future generation to also enjoy all that God has created.

The executive director of Rhino Fund Uganda, Angie Genade, said faith leaders are the backbone of local communities as they provide lessons and guidance that shape how people live.

"Having religious leaders from all major faiths come together to call for the protection of wildlife on religious grounds and urge their congregations to view the slaughter of rhinos in Uganda as a serious crime may turn the tide of the disaster we face today," she added.

In addition to religious leaders, she added, other campaign ambassadors include: the Uganda Cranes football and rugby teams, comedians Salvado and Anne Kansiime and singers Irene Ntale and Maurice Kirya.

Genade said illegal wildlife trade and poaching are the greatest threats to many endangered species, jeopardizing decades of conservation work and threatening their survival.

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There are 21 rhinos in Uganda, with Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary having 19 of them while two are being kept at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC) in Entebbe.

Genade said the same partnership has been launched in wildlife-rich countries of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

She said rhino poaching has reached a 15-year high which has pushed the animals to extinction.

About 1500 rhino horns were traded illegally in the last three years despite a long standing ban on international trade.

The trade is being driven by Asian demand for horns and is made worse by the increasing sophisticated poachers who are now using veterinary drugs, poison;, cross bows and high caliber weapons to kill the rhinos.