WILDLIFE EDUCATION CENTRE
We opened our Wildlife Education Centre in August 2017 on the beautiful slopes of Wanale Ridge near Mbale town. We’ve named it ‘Cwmbale’ – a blend of the name Mbale and the Welsh word for valley that symbolizes our partnership.
The Centre gives hundreds of children across Mbale region the chance to learn about wildlife and conservation, especially important as many of them will grow up to become farmers. We’ve developed teaching packs and many schools with PONT links have already visited.
Partnering with Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre we plan to introduce many more animals over coming years, encouraging tourism in the area.
Early on in PONT’s journey with schools links it became obvious to us that the vast majority of school children growing up in the Mbale region will never have the opportunity to enjoy the experience of seeing their own wonderful African wildlife. Our teams often include tours to safari parks where we can see and photograph amazing animals. However most people in Mbale will never get the chance to visit these reserves.
Furthermore we became aware that most people are afraid of the local wildlife, such as chameleons and insects and often drive them from their land or destroy them as a result.
What we do
We therefore purchased 12 acres of land on a stunning hillside overlooking Mbale town and for the past few years have been developing it as a wildlife centre. This is free to all schools in the area who visit Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays the site is open to local families, visitors and tourists to enjoy for a small fee.
The thinking behind the project is to allow visitors a hands-on experience of the animals wherever possible. So rather than keeping the animals locked away in cages, they are used in interactive educational sessions. As a result both the visitors and the animals grow to appreciate and enjoy each other.
Is it our hope that through the wildlife centre, local children and farmers will learn to appreciate respect and enjoy their local wildlife and will become committed to conservation efforts. We are also hoping that it will encourage local children to go into careers in conservation, wildlife and education.
Watch: Geoff Lloyd’s 2017 tour of Cwmbale and plans for the future. Many of the animals can now be spotted on site!
Many people in Uganda are afraid of chameleons and either run away from them or kill them. Here schoolchildren are being taught that chameleons are harmless and actually eat mosquitoes, which then reduces the chances of people being infected with malaria.