International Crested Crane injects over Ugx 50M in conserving Rukiga wetlands

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RUKIGA– International Crane Foundation (ICF) in partnership with African Crane Conservation, all non government organizations have donated agricultural inputs worth Ugx 50M to 8 farmer groups in Rukiga district, that carryout farming adjacent to Rushebeya-Kanyabaha wetland.

The beneficiary groups include Nyarurambi-Bahingyi Bemondi, Nyakarambi-Tukorere Mukama group, Rwempango Tukwatanise group, Rushebeya Tukurakurane group, Rutooma-Bakyara Twebiseho, Nyakagababa-Batungi-Bahingi group, Burime Twebiseho group, Nyakarambi Tukorere Mukama and Nyarurambi Bahingi Bemondi group. 

The groups received 248 pesticide bags, 12,400 bags of Irish potato seeds, 2,480 kilograms of climbing beans, 1,984 kilograms of fertilizers, 24 spray pumps.

According to the Rukiga field officer for International Crane Foundation, Phionah Orishaba, the donation is in response to the escalating wetland encroachment and want the beneficiaries to support the government and other NGOs to safeguard breeding sites for crested cranes.

Orishaba rallies the public to save the Grey-crowned crested crane, saying that the birds are so far the most endangered species of the African cranes adding that being a national symbol, the precious national emblem is protected under Uganda Wildlife (UWA) Act 2019 but people have refused to respect it.

The UWA act serves to provide for the conservation and sustainable management of wildlife, to strengthen wildlife conservation and management, to streamline the roles and responsibilities of institutions involved in wildlife conservation and management among others.

According to the Act, any person who hunts, traps, kills, sells, or even buys the crane commits an offence, and on conviction, he or she can be liable to a fine or to life imprisonment or even both according to the discretion of the court.

Orishaba adds that each member of the group received 50 kilograms of Irish potato seeds, eight kilograms of fertilizers, ten kilograms of climbing beans, one kilogram of pesticide and three spray pumps per group among others.

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Handing over the inputs to the beneficiaries at their respective villages, the Rukiga District Speaker, Oscar Akampurira hailed the international crane foundation for supporting these groups to help in conserving the environment. He warned the beneficiaries against selling off the agricultural inputs but rather grow them quickly to fight poverty and famine in their homes.

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The beneficiaries who include the chairperson of Nyakarambi Tukorere Mukama, Lazi Turyaramara, Emily Turihohabwe, Kenneth Babigumira and the Bukinda sub county Chairperson, Jack Tugume commended international crane foundation for supporting them with agricultural inputs and pledged to ensure that the wetlands and cranes are protected.

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In March and April 2021, over 60 cases of crane poisoning were reported in south-central Uganda. The poisoning is believed to have been driven by crop damage caused by cranes. Some farmers are using agrochemicals, notably Furadan, to poison cranes that visit their crop fields. 

However, conservationists believe that through various available awareness-raising activities such as community meetings, church gatherings, music composition, and moving from house to house, the custodians are sensitising community members about the consequences of poisoning cranes and the need to protect Uganda’s National emblem.