Gaps in technological advancements hindering wildlife conservation- experts

Gaps in technological advancements hindering wildlife conservation-  experts
Minister, Tom Butime

As Uganda prepares to celebrate UN World Wildlife Day on March 3, experts have highlighted human-wildlife conflicts, declining carnivore populations, and gaps in technological advancements as challenges affecting wildlife conservation.

The United Nations General Assembly established World Wildlife Day in 2013 to honor the diverse flora and fauna found across the world and raise awareness about the crucial role of conservation for humanity.

The theme for the 2024 World Wildlife Day is "Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation."

Speaking to the media in Kampala, Tom Butime, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, expressed the government's commitment to the protection and replenishment of Uganda's fauna and flora through the use of technology.

"Digital innovations offer unique opportunities to redefine the connection between people and the planet. Exploiting the potential of technologies can lead our world to a sustainable future, establishing a harmonious relationship between the environment and its inhabitants," said Butiime.

He further stated that the 2024 World Wildlife Day celebrations would focus on raising awareness about the application of digital technologies and interventions to promote wildlife conservation and management.

The aim is to share emerging positive impacts on ecosystems and livelihoods in Uganda.

"The celebrations will highlight new technological tools and related developments to complement Uganda's efforts in safeguarding biodiversity and harnessing benefits from wild animals and plants," he said.

Butiime noted that the celebrations would showcase key examples of digital innovations that have been used to enhance wildlife conservation efforts. The intention is to inspire practitioners to strengthen ongoing efforts to protect wildlife.

Simon Peter Weredwong, the Conservation Programs Manager at The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Uganda Office, emphasised the significance of digital integration in achieving global conservation goals. He called for strategic partnerships to further advance these efforts.

Weredwong cited global frameworks such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) as collaborative platforms that bring together governments, researchers, and technology experts to address conservation challenges.

These frameworks promote the use of information and communication technologies for data collection, analysis, monitoring, reporting, and public awareness.

By embracing electronic innovations, Weredwong explained that conservation transactions can be streamlined, leading to enhanced compliance monitoring, data management, transparency, and traceability.

Digital innovations offer numerous benefits for wildlife conservation, including streamlined awareness creation through various communication channels such as websites, blogs, social media, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mobile apps, webinars, and online courses. These platforms contribute to educating the public about biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, and climate change impacts on wildlife populations.

Weredwong also noted that digital technologies enable cost-effective monitoring of key wildlife species, real-time responses to human-wildlife conflicts (HWC), enhanced tourism, and easy exchange of conservation information.

WWF-Uganda has been at the forefront of utilizing digital innovations in wildlife conservation. The organization focuses on capacity building, knowledge exchange, and partnerships to drive innovation in this field.

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