Today was the first joint teachers and Community Conservation Rangers meeting at Hippo House. The main aim as far as I was concerned was to give the opportunity for teachers and rangers to find areas of commonality and plan assemblies, lessons or activities together so that they could work similarly to how Liss has worked with Steve Peach in the past and Joe Williams now. It was my job to chair the meeting and facilitate the activities. Sixx CCRs plus the Community Warden, Olivia Birra, showed up along with seven teachers.
We were extremely fortunate that Charles Etoru, who co-founded the Twinning Project with Steve Peach, was in the area and had agreed to give a speech. He was inspirational and (better still) ended up staying the whole morning so he could work with the groups. We discussed friendship, communication, blogging, planning activities together and came up with a list of agreed actions which should allow everyone to move forward together. The Twinning Project also gave each school an amount of money to help them communicate through email and blogging with the incentive of more money being released if the Ugandan schools reached a target number of emails or blog posts by the end of October.
The meeting finished at 16.30 and we went to the safari hostel over the road for a couple of drinks to celebrate before going down to dinner at Tembo. Tomorrow we are visiting Kyambura Gorge and we have to be up at 05.30. As much as I’m looking forward to chimp tracking another early start is not high on my list of priorities.
So here on the shore of lake Victoria ends my adventure. I have had a wonderful and met many truly incredible people. The past day and half have involved me being shown some sites by the Rangers, and seeing some different areas. I visited the Rwenzori NP, I saw some ranger outposts, and of course and abundance of wildlife. I have had a truly remarkable stay here in Uganda and have learnt many things. I have to thank UWA and the staff of Queen Elizabeth NP, Bwindi Impenetrable NP, and all the friends who have helped me on this trip and who have made is so enjoyable and unforgettable. I’m sad to be leaving but I look forward to returning next year, and coming in to talk to you all about my time here next term! I’m now in Entebbe airport waiting for my first flight, I should be back on the U.K by half twelve tomorrow afternoon.
Footnote: Joe has arrived home safely!
I’ve had my first day in Bwindi impenetrable national park. It is a glorious area of outstanding natural beauty, with green mountains covered in thick jungle. Monkeys, birds, snakes, elephants, and the wonderful mountain gorilla call this park home. I’m sat in a small hut in the tree tops watching the birds and listening to local music; it’s great here! Today, I was taken by one of the Rangers to visit the waterfalls and look for wildlife, I had an amazing time and even got to swim under a waterfall!
I had an incredible day today with the law enforcement team! I saw a very different side to the work done by Rangers in this dangerous and exciting field. Protecting wildlife is what all Rangers work to do, but law enforcement do it in a very direct way- risking both injury and at times death to protect the incredible wildlife that resides in their park. Today we were out at first with the police tracking a suspected criminal who had tried to seek refuge in the park. And later we spent the rest of the day on the water, obtaining illegal fishing nets in an area where they are not allowed. At times we came ashore to check in the undergrowth for signs of illegal activity, this was very exciting as we were walking up and down hippo paths (and also a bit scary!) I’ve had a great day working with the Rangers who are among the bravest men and women I’ve ever met, their work is truly on nature’s front line.
Rangers collecting illegal fishing nets.
I’ve had a wonderful day today visiting schools around QENP. I started in Kafuro and met with the energetic Yowasi. We spoke about the progress of the school and the enjoyment both the teachers and pupils get from the wonderful twinning project! Later we visited Kyaambura which has to have one of the best views from a school I’ve ever seen! The pupils were lovely and I spoke to them about being a ranger in the UK- I had to explain we don’t have anything quite as big as elephants or quite as dangerous as lions! But what we have we love and as a UK Rangers we want to protect. Finally I visited Katunguru who are twinned with Hart Plain, I was lucky to have a guided tour of the school and spoke with many of the pupils who were really lovely! I then returned to QENP on the back of a motorbike which was really fun! We saw some elephants and lots birds on the way back in.
Hi again everyone! I’ve had a couple of days of recovery on Mweya, but from the porch of Hippo House and on the walks to Tembo I’ve still enjoyed some wonderful wildlife, including elephants. The rangers kindly took me on a short bush walk as well which was fascinating.
Today I have been at UWA headquarters meeting with the two wardens in charge of law enforcement and community work. It’s been really interesting to hear from them about the conservation work they are doing in Queen Elizabeth National Park. I’ve been very lucky as over the next two weeks I will be working with them, visiting schools and other parks to learn more about the very important work they are doing and seeing what it means to be rangers in Uganda. I’m very excited!
Hello again everyone I’ve had a wonderful day at Queen Elizabeth National Park today seeing old friends and meeting new ones. I’m now sat on the porch of Hippo House enjoying the last of the day’s sun as it sinks below the horizon. There are mouse birds, fire finches, sun birds, and weaver birds to name but a few busy catching some final insects and singing out the end of the day.
Today I was very lucky to join two rangers as they delivered a boat ride to tourists, I learnt a lot from them about the animals and about the wonderful landscape, I also got some great pictures which I can’t wait to show you all! The rangers are very experienced at guiding and it was great to watch them as they did their thing, can’t wait for tomorrow! From Joe the ranger
I am now finally back in my favourite place: Queen Elizabeth National Park! I have had a very long day of travelling setting off from Jinja at 7am and arriving at Queen at 6 55pm! Nearly twelve hours on the road, but what a beautiful journey it was. Rolling hills, tea, coffee and banana plantations, bright blue skies and smiling faces all the way. As we got closer to queen the rolling hills became towering mountains as we came very close to the Congo. When we arrived at queen I met up with Yowasi to give him the money raised by Liss for the solar panels at his school, he says a massive thank you to everyone! And as we drove deep into the park, towards the wonderful hippo house on the Mweyan peninsula I was really lucky to see elephant, hippo, buffalo, warthog and lots of different birds (including my favourite the bright yellow weaver bird!) all in about 40 minutes of driving! I’ll keep you all posted of my adventures around queen working with the Rangers and hopefully seeing lots of exciting things!
The view at Mweya yesterday
Joe has sent the following message from Uganda:
Hi everyone! Just another short blog to let you guys know what I’m up to over here I Uganda, I had a great day today white water rafting along the Nile! The Rapids where amazing fun and I fell in a lot (which was sometimes a bit scary!) I saw some lovely birds along my travel down the Nile including cormorants and kingfishers. It’s was really beautiful and very exciting! I can’t wait to get down to queen, I’ll be leaving early tomorrow from Jinja to get there.
Joe has been staying with Raymond Engena, who wrote this:
The word “Culture” triggers different sentiments in different people.
To some, who want to run away, it is backwardness. Others take pride in it to show dominance and superiority of one culture over another. To me, culture is a very good mechanism for passing knowledge from one generation to another.
Take the Lango culture of ” maki welo Gweno”. (Giving a live chicken (not a roaster) to a visitor). A very simple expression of love and welcome. But more importantly a mechanism to keep each others memory alive, especially in those days when mobile telephone technology was still considered an impossibility.
It did not matter whether the visitor left the chicken behind or took it with them. The chicken remained a bond between them. It will lay eggs and hatch chicks. There will be talk of so and so’s chicken is laying eggs or has hatched so well. The visitor is therefore not forgotten.
So, Joe was wondering what to do with the chicken. Well, we will look after it. It will give us eggs and more chicks. But it will always be Joe’s chicken.
In short Joe will be remembered long after he has gone to learn how to be a good ex-citizen of the European Union.
Hi everyone, I’ve not long landed in Entebbe and am back in the wonderful Uganda! I’ve met up with our friend Ronnie who is driving me to the different places that I’m going to visit, I’m really excited to see Queen Elizabeth National Park again! I’m now sat at the zoo and am tucking in to my first tilapia and chips of my trip, it’s delicious! My view is of Lake Victoria the third largest lake in the world! Tomorrow I’ll be off to visit the projects good friend Raymond Engena in a place called Jinja, the source of the river Nile!
A big thumbs up from Joe on his arrival in Uganda.