The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) has partnered with Rhino Fund Uganda and WildAid in a campaign aimed at uniting against the killing of endangered species caused by illegal wildlife trade.
The partnership kicked off with a tour of Zziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Nakasongola district by a team of religious leaders on 22nd April, 2017 which was followed by shooting of the leaders in short video clips to be shared on the country’s television stations.
Speaking during the tour of the Rhino Sanctuary, Monsignor Charles Kasibante, the chairman of the IRCU executive board, called upon Christians to preserve the integrity of creation as this is the reason God created man: to be his helper.
“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,” he said.
Kasibante called upon Ugandans 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.
In addition, 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.
Genade said illegal wildlife trade and poaching are the greatest threats to many endangered species, jeopardizing decades of conservation work and threatening
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.
She added that 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.
The three-year campaign themed: ‘Poaching steals from us all’ has also brought on board other campaign ambassadors including: the Uganda Cranes football and rugby teams, select comedians and singers and has been launched in wildlife-rich countries of Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.