Ugandan Educator Travels Far and Wide to Earn IPS Award
Silver Birungi, who uses the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victoria as a base to extend innovative conservation education programs across southern Uganda, has won the International Primatological Society (IPS) Charles Southwick Conservation Education Commitment Award for 2010.
Birungi is the fifth consecutive Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) delegate to win the IPS award, joining Ateh Wilson (Limbe Wildlife Center, Cameroon, 2006), Jerry Akparawa (CERCOPAN, Nigeria, 2007), Pierrot Mbonzo (Lola ya Bonobo, DR Congo, 2008) and Jeta James Fawoh (Ape Action Africa, Cameroon, 2009).
The Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary is a charter member of PASA, which was founded in 2000 to unite the rehabilitation facilities across Africa that care for thousands of orphaned primates.
“PASA is extremely proud of Silver and we are delighted he has been recognized for his work,” said Doug Cress, executive director of PASA. “Uganda is often considered at the forefront of utilizing conservation education to promote the protection of chimpanzees and other endangered primates, and Silver is a great ambassador for that work. He connects on issues such as ecology and sustainability in a way that few can.”
In addition to education duties at Ngamba Island, which is home to 44 orphaned chimpanzees and receives over 100,000 tourists by boat each year from Entebbe, Birungi heads up the sanctuary’s field education program. That requires him to travel up to 200 kilometers away to reach communities in places like Hoima and Bulindo, where wild chimpanzees often come into conflict with agricultural communities.
Teacher-training workshops have proven particularly effective in those regions, and Birungi helped bring 27 primary and secondary schools together last year to focus on chimpanzee issues. A public awareness campaign — based upon the theme “Give Chimpanzees a Chance? – and a reforestation program are also underway.
Birungi earned a B.A in Environmental Management and a Post graduate Diploma in Education from Makerere University Kampala, and has represented Ngamba Island at conferences in Scotland and Kenya. In May, Birungi will take part in the PASA 2010 Education Workshop, which will be held May 26-30 in South Africa.
Hired as the education coordinator at CWAF in 2004, Fawoh designed an ambitious program that included both on-site presentations and a mobile program that targeted schools, church groups, and cultural unions. It is estimated that Fawoh personally speaks to more than 60,000 people each year, and he also organizes teacher-training workshops that give educators in and around Yaounde the skills and resources to build conservation into their lesson plans, thereby increasing the scope of the work.
The IPS Southwick Award is “dedicated to recognizing individuals living in primate habitat countries that have made a significant contribution to formal and informal conservation education in their countries.” Winners receive a $750 prize, along with $250 to be applied to an education project of their choice.
PASA is comprised of 18 member sanctuaries in 12 countries, which rescue and rehabilitate chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, drills, and other endangered primates. For more information, please visit the PASA website, Facebook page, Twitter, or e-mail.