The silver linning of COVID-19
September 15, 2020
Conservation education is a pertinent and critical component of Budongo Conservation Field Station’s (BCFS) contribution to protecting species and their ecosystem. This is useful as it complements our other efforts, for example research, training, lobbying and policy development. These efforts are even more important during the current global pandemic of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 "era" has been a time for communities across the world to re-think and re-focus on their health and way of life. This is the case even among communities neighboring Budongo Forest. Much as one could argue that the communities are least concerned as no victims of COVID-19 have been reported in their immediate community "yet", (touch wood) the seed has been planted and we are moving ahead to rip of its benefits. While the situation with COVID-19 can be considered a calamity, it is also an opportunity to emphasize and enforce positive behaviors. We at BCFS are utilizing this opportunity to pass across some conservation messages that had previously been difficult to get communities to comprehend.
BCFS has since moved to create educational material to remind and re-echo the practices that are key to minimising disease transmission at the human wildlife interface. And in addition to the national and international efforts towards minimizing the spread of COVID-19, we further developed translated content on the same in the different key languages (Runyoro and Swahili) relevant to the Budongo Forest landscape. The posters on minimizing disease transmission and the spread of COVID-19 came in handy as more cases of community transmission of COVID-19 are being reported in Uganda. Copies of these posters have been availed to the Masindi District Health task force for distribution to households and across various community facilities. BCFS remains vigilant in observing the Government of Uganda and Ministry of Health standard operating procedures (SOPs) and all related health guidelines. With an aim of sticking to our mandate to keep our staff and wildlife especially the iconic chimpanzees in the Budongo landscape safe. Reaching communities with positive messages on actions to be taken to prevent COVID-19 spread is pertinent, not only for community benefit, but also for the benefit of wildlife that are potentially at risk of contracting COVID-19.
It is our hope that these educational materials will provide regular positive reminders to the communities. Such that by the time we overcome COVID-19, we would have recruited more converts to a group of people seeking positive interactions with wildlife, and consequently positive conservation outcomes.
Stay safe and best wishes from all of us at Budongo.
Until next time,
Jacintha N. Lwebuga
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