Volunteers support wildlife rangers in African country park

Liz Bourne with a wildlife officer on a previous trip to Uganda
Liz Bourne with a wildlife officer on a previous trip to Uganda

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CONSERVATION was at the heart of a twinning project which saw volunteers travel to Uganda to help wildlife rangers.

Volunteers at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, in Horndean, work closely with their counterparts in western Uganda at a country park which shares the same name.

A classroom full of chidlren in Uganda

A classroom full of chidlren in Uganda

They are part of a twinning project which has seen benefits to both country parks.

The team, made up of teachers, rangers and students, worked to support the park’s wildlife rangers.

Liz Bourne, from Southsea, was among the UK team.

She said: ‘Although the two parks may seem very dissimilar – the wildlife is certainly different – it is recognised that the problems they both encounter with regards to conservation are similar.

Primary school children take a quick break from the classroom

Primary school children take a quick break from the classroom

‘There are lessons to be learnt from each other.

‘Working with local communities is essential for successful conservation and there was work to be done to improve the relations between the park and Ugandan communities.’

In an effort to do just that, they set up a tag rugby tournament, the Conservation Cup, between primary school children from eight schools in and around the park.

Liz said: ‘The event gave the children an opportunity to come together and play sport and develop a positive relationship with the community rangers and their local national park.’

A monkey relaxes in a tree at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Uganda

A monkey relaxes in a tree at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Uganda

World Ranger Day which fell during the July trip, commemorates those killed or injured in the line of duty.

This year the volunteers joined rangers, a brass band and acrobats as they marched to a Ugandan village where they picked up litter with the locals.

They attended the Uganda Wildlife Authority headquarters where they heard speeches acknowledging the tough and dangerous job rangers do.

They also took the time to visit a nursery which the children of the country park rangers attend and Liz said the team recognised the need to support rangers’ families too.

She said the nursery was a single under-resourced classroom with one teacher for 30 children aged two to five.

Liz said: ‘We are considering the possibility of supporting the school by improving its infrastructure, properly resourcing it and hiring an additional teacher.’

If you would like to support the Queen Elizabeth Parks Project either by volunteering or donating, visit queenelizabethparks.org.